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Belarus, EU to sign visa facilitation agreement on 8 January


Belarus and the European Union are set to sign the Agreements on Visa Facilitation and Readmission on 8 January, BelTA has learned. Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Makei is to sign the agreements in Brussels.

The information about it was posted on the website of the European Commission. As BelTA reported earlier, the Council of the European Union endorsed the decision to sign the visa facilitation agreement with Belarus. In September Belarus completed the domestic procedures on the Agreements on Visa Facilitation and Readmission with the European Union. This step was preceded by a quite complex and time-consuming negotiation process with the European Union, which resulted in mutually acceptable texts that take the best interests of both sides into account.

The Agreement on Visa Facilitation between Belarus and the EU provides for a reduction of the Schengen visa fee from €60 to €35 and the issuance of a visa within ten days. As for Belarus' commitments regarding the readmission of third-country citizens, the country will be granted a two-year transition period. In accordance with the joint declaration accompanying the agreement, the European Union will be obliged to provide technical and financial assistance in this field.

Earlier, in an interview with BelTA, Head of the European Union's Delegation to Belarus Dirk Schuebel said: “The Council of the European Union has already authorized the signature of the visa facilitation agreement and is expected to authorize the signature of the readmission agreement once the procedures on the EU side are finalized. Once both agreements are signed, the European Parliament is to give its consent to the conclusion of the two agreements and then the Council of the European Union is to adopt decisions on the conclusion of the two agreements.

The two agreements will enter into force simultaneously on the first day of the second month following the date on which the parties notify each other that the ratification procedures have been completed. Once the visa facilitation agreement has entered into force, the visa fee will be automatically reduced to €35 for all Belarusian citizens. Many categories of Belarusian citizens – depending on their travel purpose – will be able to have visa fee requirements waived and will be able to obtain longer-validity multiple-entry visas in a simplified manner.

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