MINSK, October 27 (Itar-Tass) - The European Union is braking the process of simplifying visa issuance procedures for Belarusian citizens, making it dependent on the signing of a readmission agreement, Belarusian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Andrei Savinykh said on Sunday.
“We plan to negotiate simplification of the visa issuance procedures with the European Union,” he told the STV government television channel. “But the situation is not that easy. The thing is that they seek to make these talks dependant on the signing of the readmission agreement.”
This agreement means that “if an illegal migrant, who claims to be a Belarusian national, is detained in the European Union, we will be obliged to accept him or her, to maintain and send him or her to his or her original country,” he noted. “But it is fraught with serious expenses for the country and may give rise to problems at the social level.”
The spokesman stressed that Belarus was not a source of illegal migration, since illegal migrant use it as a transit country. That is why, in his words, before signing the readmission agreement with the European Union Belarus had to build “a system of agreements with countries that are sources of illegal migration.” “And this is a rather complicated and painstaking process,” he noted. “So, linking the simplification of visa formalities with the signing of the readmission agreement, the European Union has hampered this process.”
He also dwelt on the problem of reducing the cost of Schengen visas for Belarusian citizens. He said Belarus would like the European Union to cut the visa price of 60 euro. “We understand that 60 euro is a rather high price, so we unilaterally brought it down to 35 euro for our neighbours: Poland, Latvia and Lithuania,” he said, adding that regrettably there had been no return moves. “So far, the issue stays at the level of declarations,” he noted.