Posted on 04.04.2013 in Belarus, EU and the Eastern Partnership, News

Belarus ranks near bottom in Eastern Partnership Visa Liberalization Index

Belarus is ranked fifth among six countries in the Eastern Partnership Visa Liberalization Index.

The Index is a report published every quarter by the Warsaw-based Stefan Batory Foundation and the Visa-free Europe Coalition every four months to show the progress that has been made by all the Eastern Partnership participating countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine — on the way to visa-free travel with the European Union.

According to the report, only Azerbaijan had done less for visa liberalization with the European Union than Belarus as of February 2013.

“Belarus is the only country out of the Eastern Partnership states that does not have official visa dialogue with the EU,” the report says. It ranks at the bottom in the External Relations and Fundamental Rights and the Public Security and Order categories.

The report acknowledges that the country has made some important steps to meet the benchmarks for visa liberalization. The most considerable progress

is made in the area of migration and border management. Unlike Ukraine or Azerbaijan, Belarus was equipped to start issuing biometric passports as of 2012, and pilot biometric passports have already been issued.

In order to achieve a visa-free regime with the EU, a non-EU country needs to meet a series of conditions in the areas of border control, personal document security, public order and security, and human rights.

So far, out of six Eastern Partnership countries, only Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia have started a formal visa liberalization dialogue with the EU.