March 28, association Belarus Watch held discussion in the Lithuanian Seimas, dedicated to the future abolition of the visa regime between the EU and Belarus. The event was attended by the Lithuanian politicians, the Belarusian social activists and experts, as well as representatives of various non-governmental organizations.
Saeimas Committee member of the Foreign Affairs Petras Aushtryavichyus said, opening debate in the Parliamentary Bureau of European information, that opening the borders for the Belarusians may give a much greater effect than hundreds of seminars. He recalled that the EU visa sanctions against Lukashenko and his associates should not affect ordinary Belarusian citizens, writes DELFI.
Belarus Has Nuclear Visa Regime, Aushtryavichyus
The politician has expressed his hope that Saeimas will soon consider an agreement on the travel facilitation for residents of the border areas in a 50 km radius, and will begin «an interesting discussion on this issue.» He believes that the visa regime in this area will become the first step, «which can and should open the borders of Europe for the people of Belarus.» However, the decision of Saeimas may affect the NPP construction and nuclear safety, said the politician.
«Almost the entire border zone occurs in the zone of radiation exposure. I would call it the abolition of nuclear visa regime. Let’s be honest, people will be in the high risk area, if projects are implemented,» said Petras Aushtryavichyus.
Aushtryavichyus Wants Belarusians to Work in EU
According to Petras Aushtryavichyusa, the European politicians should consider the possibility of the gradual and partial opening of the EU market for the Belarusian working citizens «in certain areas.» He did not elaborate the exact areas.
«We must do something Lukashenko does not count on. He, apparently, thinks that this process (the introduction of visa-free regime) will be slow, painful, and there will one more reason for the Belarusians to «get disappointed» with Europe,» said the parliamentarian.
Visa Abolition to Help Solve NPP Problem, Andryuskaytis
Another committee member of the Lithuanian Seimas on Foreign Affairs Vytenis Andryuskaytis also called for the contacts simplification between the inhabitants of the two republics. «There should be no dividing lines in Europe. The only way to democratic progress is to remove barriers and open willingness to dialogues, debates,» he explained. In this case, the regime representatives must be isolated, said the politician.
The parliamentarian said that Lithuania was delaying the ratification of the agreement. According to the politician, the problem of nuclear security is only to expedite visa abolition, because the Belarusians may have questions to Lithuania, too.
«There’s Visaginas at the border with Belarus; if we close nuclear power plant, it can also cause some risk. And «green» of Belarus can raise questions and develop the bilateral discussions as well. There couldn’t angels on both sides in life. The EU has a lot of different arguments and disputes; so we should also estimate risks from nuclear power plants in Belarus and Lithuania. This is a good occasion for activities, which requires visa abolition,» said Vytenis Andriukaitis.
Visa should be Canceled regardless of Negotiations with Regime, Melyantsou
Political scientist and analyst of the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies Denis Melyantsou said, in turn, that the decision on abolishing visas for citizens of Belarus should be accepted regardless of the outcome of negotiations with the official Minsk.
Visas should not depend on any negotiations’ results with the Belarusian regime. Visa should go in the first place, should lead to a pro-European attitude of Belarusians,» he said.
Visa Abolition — more Important than Democracy for many Belarusians, Melyantsou
The analyst has stressed that Belarusians are «annoyed with queues and paperwork» when applying for visas to the EU countries. In addition, according to Dennis Melyantsou, 37% of surveys, conducted in Belarus, «consider the abolition of visas even more important than democratization.»
Also, the political scientist has noticed that after 2-3 visits to the EU the attitude of a resident of Belarus towards the EU is changing for the better by about 20%. Denis Melyantsou has informed that Belarus has a technical ability to cancel the visa regime. But there are problems of political nature: «the regime does not want to move closer to the EU» so that «the Belarusians could have the opportunity to compare, as the comparison would not be in favor of the regime.»