Latvia will not charge the Belarusian citizens consular fee for issuing a national long-stay visa since 24 January. Now a free visa is issued for those, planning to stay in Latvia for over 90 days within six months. However, the mechanism for issuing Schengen visa remained unchanged.
As explained in the Latvian Embassy, further simplification of visa regime between Belarus and Latvia may be possible after the EU talks on Belarus, BelTA informs.
As reported by the Latvian Embassy, the number of national visas, issued by the consuls of Latvia in Minsk, is less than 10% of the total number of visas issued. Thus, the Latvian consuls in Minsk have issued about 20 thousand visas to Belarusians in 2010.
As Telegraf previously reported, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, following the EU recommendations, has introduced a simplified visa regime for citizens of Belarus with no fees for long-stay visas. The Latvian Foreign Ministry said that this decision had been made for the sake of development of «human contacts and strengthening of social and democratic institutions» between the two countries.
A similar step was taken earlier by Poland, having cancelled visa fees for Belarusian citizens from January 1, 2011. The Lithuanian authorities decided to follow the example of Poland. According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Audronius Azubalis, the Lithuanian side will ensure that the Belarusian citizens could get the Lithuanian national visas free of charge or at symbolic prices.
Such actions were suggested by the MEPs. In their view, it is necessary to extend visa bans on the Belarusian officials until the latter release all those, detained in Minsk on December 19. Meanwhile, they call on to reduce the cost of visas for Belarusian citizens.