Belorussian FM Acknowledges Difficulties in Visa Facilitation Talks with the EU

Talks on visa facilitation and readmission agreements between Belarus and the European Union have run into difficulties as “our European friends do not want to understand some niceties that are important to us,” Foreign Minister Uladzimir Makey told reporters in Minsk on Wednesday.

Asked by BelaPAN whether he was referring to the European Union`s refusal to negotiate the possibility of visa-free travel for holders of diplomatic passports, Mr. Makey said, “The issue is among these [niceties]. They do not make concessions so far.”

The minister said that the next round of the talks would take place in Minsk within the next month and a half. Asked if Belarus and the EU might reach agreement before an Eastern Partnership summit to be held in Riga this May, Mr. Makey replied that the sides did not necessarily seek to sign the deals at some important event. “We are ready to work on this deal until agreement is reached.

But we will think about that. I believe that in any case we need to proceed from what can be achieved at the current stage and what benefits it would bring to all sides. And make an appropriate decision based on that,” said the minister.

The Council of the European Union invited Belarus to start visa facilitation talks as far back as June 2011. However, the government ignored the invitation until the Third Eastern Partnership Summit, which was held in Vilnius in November 2013. Mr. Makey announced at the summit that Belarus was ready to start talks with the EU on visa facilitation and readmission.

The first round of the talks took place in Minsk in June 2014 and the second round was held in Brussels in November.


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