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Minsk expects EU's reciprocal moves after it approves five-day visa-free regime

January 09, 2017, 20:01 UTC+3 MINSK

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree on Monday scrapping visa requirements for residents of 80 foreign countries, including all EU states

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MINSK, January 9. /TASS/. Belarus expects reciprocal moves from the European Union after it has introduced five-day visa-free travels for citizens of 80 states, including the EU countries, the head of the Belarussian Foreign Ministry’s main consular department said on Monday in comments on the presidential decree.

"Visa rules of the European Union were approved in a decision of 28 states, and it is rather difficult to expect they will undergo some changes depending on the decision of Belarus, one of the EU neighbors," Igor Fisenko said.

"At the same time, we hope that the EU will take into account this decision, and some reciprocal moves towards the development of contacts between Belarus and EU will follow," the diplomat continued.

He said Belarus was consistently moving towards this decision - first it introduced visa-free trips to the Belovezhskaya Pushcha national park, than to the Augustow Canal recreation park. Fisenko said Minsk will continue abiding by the rules of reciprocity. "This means we will be opening exactly to the same extent to which the other countries will be opening to us. We hope our positive signal will be heard soon," he added.

The diplomat said that under the presidential decree, five days - the period of visa-free travels to Belarus for citizens of 80 countries - is the term that does not envisage foreigners’ registration with internal affairs agencies. "So a foreign national will face no formalities, he or she will simply fly to Belarus, get positive impressions, and as we hope will return once again," Fisenko said.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree on Monday scrapping visa requirements for residents of 80 foreign countries for a period of no more than five days, the press service of the Belarusian president reports.

"The document establishes visa-free procedures of entry into Belarus for a period no longer than five days on entry via a check point across the State Border, the Minsk National Airport, for citizens of 80 countries," it said, specifying that the decree covers 39 European countries, including all EU countries, as well as Brazil, Indonesia, the United States and Japan.

"First of all these are migrant-friendly countries, strategic partners of Belarus, states that have unilaterally introduced a visa-free regime for Belarusian nationals," the press service explained. The decree also applies to "non-citizens of Latvia and stateless persons of Estonia".

"The document is aimed at giving a boost to travels of business people, tourists, individuals having domestic passports and will not apply to foreigners making official trips: diplomatic, business, special and other passports equivalent to them will not be taken into consideration," the press service commented.

As for the citizens of Vietnam, Haiti, Gambia, Honduras, India, China, Lebanon, Namibia and Samoa, a compulsory additional demand for them is to have in their passports a valid multi-entry visa of a EU or a Schengen zone state with a mark confirming the entry to their territory, as well as plane tickets confirming the departure from the Minsk National Airport within five days from the entry date.

These visa-free travels don’t apply to people arriving in Belarus by plane from Russia, as well as planning to fly to Russian airports (these flights are domestic and have no border controls). The decree comes into effect one month after it is published officially.

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