Sikorski calls for easier travel for Belarusian VIPs

Poland's foreign minister, returning from a trip to Belarus, has called on the EU to drop visa restrictions for Belarusian VIPs, imposed as part of sanctions against Aleksander Lukashenko's authoritarian regime.

"We will look at ways for doing away with EU entry visas for Belarusian officials,' the IAR agency is quoting Sikorski as saying on his return from talks with the Belarusian foreign minister, Sergei Martynov in Wiskule near Brzesc.

Poland will also seek ways of reducing the cost of visas for Belarusian citizens, which have increased noticeably since Poland joined the Schengen Zone in December 2007, said the minister.

Aside from freedom of travel between the two countries, the two foreign ministers discussed security issues, energy cooperation and the possible participation of Polish companies in Minsk's privatisation process.

Poland will also be included in the EU delegation to oversee the elections in Belarus on September 28. Yesterday, election officials in Minsk promised that the ballot would "smash the stereotypes" that President Lukashenko's government continues to rig elections.

Warsaw and the rest of the EU have emphasised the progress Minsk has made on human rights recently, in a country once described as the "last dictatorship in Europe." Some political prisoners have been released and media restrictions have eased. The 27 nation bloc also wants to reward Belarus for not openly backing Moscow in the war in the Caucasus.

A special EU Eastern Partnership scheme - of which Poland is a major promoter - aims at increasing ties between Belarus and the bloc's eastern neighbours. (



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