EU countries have announced the waiver of fees for national visas for Belarusians. The other day after Poland and Latvia this said Germany and Estonia. But whether this will affect the relaxation of visa significant number of Belarusian citizens and visa policy will change significantly the European Union?
Germany February 4 draws national visas for Belarusian citizens, without charging visa fee. These visas are issued to persons who plan to stay in Germany for more than three months, for example, for the purpose of family reunification, to study or work. Estonia has also announced that it cancels the visa fee for a national visa from March 1. It is issued to those who are going to Estonia on short-term work — for example, representatives of creative professions, teachers, students or athlete. Commenting on the move in Germany and Estonia, a spokesman for the Belarusian Foreign Ministry Andrei Savinykh said:
"If this information is officially confirmed, we will accept these positive steps. As, however, and any others that are aimed at the development of contacts between our countries. We have not changed this position even today when Europe is seeking to terminate the dialogue at government level and make decisions that deepen the dividing lines in Europe. In these circumstances, perhaps even at the level of public diplomacy we will be able to convey to the German and Estonian society the truth about the real situation in our country, that their political establishment carefully tries to ignore. "
However, in both embassies said that this relief does not apply to short-term private and business visits. This applies, for example, business and leisure trips or visiting friends and relatives. For them to have a Schengen visa, the cost of which remains the same — 60 euros. Head Office for a Democratic Belarus Olga Stuzhinskaya notes that in the current situation substantial progress on the visa issue is unlikely. Between the EU and Belarus must be signed by the relevant agreement.
"Talking about it is not even begun. The Commission only made her proposal to the Council the European Union. The EU Council should give a mandate to start the negotiations. In such a situation, like today, when relations between Brussels and Minsk tense, I'm not even sure that both sides are interested to talk about it. "
Embassy of Germany notes that the federal government has consistently advocated easing the visa regime for Belarusians. That is why, for example, in 2010 one third of all Schengen visas are issued without a visa fee, including children, who were sent for rehabilitation, participants in youth and student exchanges, artists and members of human rights and religious organizations.
The representative of the Polish Embassy in Belarus Paul Marchuk also noted that Poland has sought the abolition of visas for Belarusian citizens, but this decision must be agreed by all members of the European Union. From 1 January 2011 Poland canceled fees for national visas. However, according to Paul Marchuk, the demand for Polish visas while keeping the same level:
"You have to take into account the one feature that national visa — long-term. They are issued for those traveling more than 90 days in Poland. This is not tourism. This is a more serious intentions, and I think that the abolition of the fee for this category of visa will not affect somehow especially on the number of issued vizav.Toe that Poland could do it once did. As for the common visa policy of the EU, there is, of course, need more time. "
Political scientist Ales Lahvinets notes that the abolition of fees for national visas, as already announced, Latvia, Poland, Estonia and Germany, will affect a very small portion of the Belarusian citizens. As for the more significant decisions, they involve interaction with governments:
"These EU rules that simultaneously with the agreement on simplification of visa regime should be defined mandate to the Commission and shall be signed by the readmission agreement. No such agreement with Belarus. Given the current state of relations between the EU and the official Minsk, the harder it is hoped that such negotiations will begin immediately and will be able to give a very quick and positive results. "
Neighboring Lithuania earlier promised to take the initiative to the citizens of Belarus received the Lithuanian national visas free of charge or for a nominal price. Lithuania has offered Belarusian officials to do it on a bilateral basis. However, the question remains unresolved.