If Belarus joins European Neighborhood Policy, Schengen visa fees for Belarusians may be lowered 15:21, 20/09/2007
If Belarus joins the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), the Schengen visa fees for Belarusian citizens may be lowered, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the European Union’s commissioner for external relations, said while meeting with a group of Belarusian reporters in Brussels on September 18.
She noted that the decision on the prices of Schengen visas had been made by all EU member countries, and that a decision on visa fees for third countries should be made unanimously.
According to Ms. Ferrero-Waldner, each EU member state has the right to issue visas at reduced or no fees for certain categories of people. A fee of ˆ60 for a single-entry Schengen visa was established for not only Belarus but also all other countries, she noted. “We don’t create any special restrictions for the citizens of Belarus,” she said. “The only restriction is the entry ban for certain high-ranking Belarusian officials deemed responsible for unfair elections and referendum, which were rigged.”
Ms. Ferrero-Waldner said she realizes that the ˆ60 fee is very high for most of the Belarusians. “We would like very much the European Union to have relations with Belarus as it has with Ukraine, Moldova, Russia and other countries in the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy,” she said. According to her, Ukraine is fully involved in the ENP and has done much to be favorably treated by the EU. A Schengen visa will cost Ukrainian citizens ˆ35. “We signed an agreement on a simplified visa system with Ukraine and simultaneously signed an agreement on readmission,” she said. “We hope that it will be ratified before the end of the year or at the beginning of 2008.”