Belarus plans to extend visa waiver for neighboring countries
MINSK, July 19 (BelTA) — Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko raised the issue of Belarus’ visa waiver program for citizens of Lithuania, Latvia and Poland during his meeting with the Governor of Grodno Oblast Vladimir Karanik in Minsk on July 19, BelTA learned.
“This is a special question. We have launched a visa waiver program for Lithuanian, Latvian and Polish citizens. First of all, this is your area of responsibility since you run the border region. What are your impressions , your take on this?” asked the head of state. “Are we going to continue? What is the reaction of people, both visitors from Lithuania, Latvia and Poland and our people? More importantly, how do our people feel about it?”
“Governments in these countries have gone mad. They’re losing their minds. They’re going after children now. That’s all you need to know about free speech and human rights,” noted Belarusian leader.
“But, all the same, I would like to know how our people react to this and what is your view on the future use of the program,” asked Alexander Lukashenko.
The Belarusian visa waiver program for citizens of neighboring countries promotes people-to-people contacts, Governor of Grodno Oblast Vladimir Karanik told media after the meeting with the head of state.
According to the governor, the number of visa-free arrivals in the region from Lithuania and Poland is increasing. “We see no problem with these visits,” he said. “People communicate with their loved ones. They shop here. But this does not cause a shortage. People who buy things here and take them home to their country don’t provoke an aggressive reaction from the locals.”
Vladimir Karanik is convinced that the visa waiver program promotes people-to-people contacts: “Friendship and good relations between states begin with friendship and good relations between their citizens. For our part, we are interested in good neighborly relations with all our neighbors and we will continue to stimulate people-to-people contacts, which (after all, the philosophy has not been canceled) will go from quantity to quality. Foreigners who come to our country and see that it is a calm, clean, beautiful and very comfortable country will be able to convey this point of view to their politicians, and relations between our countries will begin to improve.
As BelTA reported earlier, Belarus has abolished visas for Lithuanian and Latvian citizens (including people who have Latvian non-citizen status) for the period from April 15 to December 31. On July 1, Belarus introduced a visa waiver program for Polish citizens.