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03 October 2019, 12:47

Opinion: Belarus has all grounds for visa-free regime with EU

Valery Voronetsky. Archive photo
Valery Voronetsky. Archive photo

MINSK, 3 October (BelTA) – Belarus has good reasons to expect a visa-free regime with the European Union, Valery Voronetsky, Chairman of the International Affairs Commission of the House of Representatives, told the Belarus 1 TV channel, BelTA has learned.

“Signing a visa waiver agreement with the EU would show that the European Union is willing to enhance cooperation with our country. This will facilitate economic cooperation between Belarus and the EU, help scale up projects and programs in education and culture. However, the EU has only agreed to reduce the price for a visa from €60 to €35, while Belarus introduced a visa-free entry for the EU citizens long ago, which means that we are more open. Moreover, I would expect the EU to consider not just reducing the cost, but canceling visas for Belarusians altogether. After all, Belarus receives the highest amount of visas per 100,000 citizens and has the lowest visa refusal rate among the CIS member states. In line with the EU regulatory documents, we have every reason to have a visa-free regime with the EU. I think that the EU should look into this matter,” Valery Voronetsky said.

He also shared his opinion about the prospects of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). Participants of the EAEU summit noted that trade between the EAEU member states as well as with third countries has declined. “This attests to numerous flaws in the EAEU. Not everything is good. In view of the national selfishness of the EAEU member states and the fact that international officials work not for the benefit of the union but for the benefit of countries they represent, I believe that we should strengthen the role of the Eurasian Economic Commission and the EAEU Court,” Valery Voronetsky noted.

Valery Voronetsky called Belarus-Ukraine relations a good example of a solid partnership. “We are implementing a roadmap to reach $8 billion in trade between Belarus and Ukraine. The forum of regions in Zhitomir will undoubtedly help us achieve this goal. The EAEU can learn something from these relations. It has certain institutions and plenty of international officials, but they are not as effective as we were hoping for. Here we have no institutions, but we have managed to establish normal relations between the countries, which helps us boost trade significantly. It would be great if we managed to achieve the $8 billion in trade with other EAEU countries (except for Russia as we speak about quite different figures here),” Valery Voronetsky said.

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