Belarus Aims to Relax Visa Regime with EU but Sets no Deadlines

Minsk aims to relax the visa regime with the European Union and proposes the reshaping of the Eastern Partnership in the context of the Ukrainian events.

“We discussed prospects for the drawing up and conclusion of the [visa relaxation] agreement. Our work will be very concrete and specific but, certainly, no deadlines will be set,” Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei said after his working trip to Lithuania and Latvia.

It is much too early to speak about tangible progress in Belarus-EU relations but the EU slowly comes to realize the necessity of the dialogue, he noted. “It would be an overstatement to say progress [has been made]. Hopefully, this progress will be irreversible. Certain improvements have been achieved,” the minister told Belarus 1 channel on Sunday.

“This improvement of a kind primarily exhibits itself, as we think, with the emerging realization of our European partners that EU-Belarus relationship has come to a deadlock. It is impossible to stick to the liberation of a certain number of individuals who are incurring a concrete punishment for a concrete crime,” Makei continued.

“A long-term strategy of the relationship between Belarus and the European Union should be on the agenda,” the minister said.

“Belarus should be an island of stability and security from the European point of view,” Makei stressed.

“For us Europe, the European Union, is the second largest trade and economic partner after Russia,” he indicated. “There must be a dialogue with Europe and we are ready for this – an open, frank and equal dialogue.”

“It seems that our European partners slowly begin to understand the need to cooperate, the need to hold a dialogue with each other, the need to cooperate in every sphere we can, wherever that is necessary and advantageous for Belarus and the European Union,” he stressed.

Makei proposed reshaping the EU Eastern Partnership Initiative in the light of the Ukrainian events.

“They should not set the same demands to all member countries of this initiative,” the minister stated.

“We want good relations with the European Union but the level of these relations should be different. And, bearing this in mind, the European Union should develop its relations and make distinctions between the initiative members,” he said.


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