Lithuanian Foreign Minister: Minsk Does not Specifically Say When it Wants Local Border Traffic Agreement to Takes Effect

For the time being, Minsk does not specifically say when it wants the Belarusian-Lithuanian local border traffic agreement to come into force and only asks for additional consultations, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Friday in an interview with BelaPAN.

“The Belarusian side has expressed a wish that some extra consultations be held in order to weigh all arguments once again,” Mr. Linkevicius said. “We are ready to do everything necessary. If there is such a wish, we will certainly organize meetings and invite border and customs officers and local authorities to take part in them. If there are any questions or doubts, they should be addressed.”

Lithuania is interested in the implementation of the agreement because it would make cross-border trips for residents of border areas easier, Mr. Linkevicius said. “I hope that if the agreement takes effect, it will reduce the burden on our [seven] international border crossings because residents of border areas will be able to use our eleven local border crossings.”

According to Mr. Linkevicius, Lithuania has already completed all domestic procedures necessary for the agreement to take effect. “We have been ready to implement the agreement for a long time and are waiting for the Belarusian side to get ready for this,” he said.

Belarus signed local border traffic agreements with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland as far back as 2010.

Under the agreements, people who reside within 30 kilometers of the shared border would be allowed to cross it without a visa if they had a special local border traffic permit, which would allow them to stay within the 30-kilometer border zone on the other side of the border for up to a total of 90 days within a year. Such permits would be issued for a period of up to five years. To be eligible, a person would have to have resided in the area for no less than one year. Also eligible would be the spouses of such persons and their children under 18 years of age.

The local border traffic agreement with Latvia took effect on February 1, 2012.

The establishment of local border traffic with Poland and Lithuania is impeded by political and economic problems, Alyaksandr Lukashenka told reporters in January 2013.


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