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Reducing visa fees for Belarussian citizens

Written declaration No. 412 | Doc. 11669 | 26 June 2008

Mr Andrea RIGONI, Italy, ALDE ; Mr Claudio AZZOLINI, Italy ; Mr Laurent BÉTEILLE, France, EPP/CD ; Mr Aleksandër BIBERAJ, Albania ; Mr Luc Van den BRANDE, Belgium, EPP/CD ; Mr Mevlüt ÇAVUŞOĞLU, Turkey, EDG ; Mr Boriss CILEVIČS, Latvia, SOC ; Ms Anna ČURDOVÁ, Czech Republic ; Mr Mátyás EÖRSI, Hungary, ALDE ; Mr Frank FAHEY, Ireland, ALDE ; Mr Andreas GROSS, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Sabir HAJIYEV, Azerbaijan, SOC ; Mr Mike HANCOCK, United Kingdom, ALDE ; Mr Andres HERKEL, Estonia, EPP/CD ; Mr Joachim HÖRSTER, Germany, EPP/CD ; Ms Sinikka HURSKAINEN, Finland, SOC ; Mr Tadeusz IWIŃSKI, Poland, SOC ; Ms Corien W.A. JONKER, Netherlands, EPP/CD ; Ms Birgen KELEŞ, Turkey, SOC ; Mr Tiny KOX, Netherlands, UEL ; Mr Göran LINDBLAD, Sweden, EPP/CD ; Mr René van der LINDEN, Netherlands ; Mr Eduard LINTNER, Germany ; Mr Dariusz LIPIŃSKI, Poland, EPP/CD ; Mr Mikhail MARGELOV, Russian Federation ; Ms Miroslava NĚMCOVÁ, Czech Republic ; Mr Pasquale NESSA, Italy, EPP/CD ; Ms Carina OHLSSON, Sweden, SOC ; Mr Christos POURGOURIDES, Cyprus, EPP/CD ; Mr François ROCHEBLOINE, France, EPP/CD ; Lord David RUSSELL-JOHNSTON, United Kingdom ; Mr Leonid SLUTSKY, Russian Federation, SOC ; Mr Björn von SYDOW, Sweden, SOC ; Mr Vilmos SZABÓ, Hungary ; Mr Mehmet TEKELİOĞLU, Turkey, EPP/CD ; Mr Ilyas UMAKHANOV, Russian Federation, EDG ; Mr Marco ZACCHERA, Italy

Amongst Europeans, Belarusian citizens have to pay the highest fees to enter countries belonging to the Schengen zone: €60 for a single-entry visa. This sum amounts to almost one third of the average monthly salary in Belarus. This, together with bureaucratic hurdles, creates overwhelming difficulties for ordinary Belarusians, especially students, youth and business people, in travelling to Europe, and reduces even further their chances of coming into contact with other Europeans.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Council of Europe member states and the European Union have constantly and repeatedly stated that the policy applied towards the Belarusian authorities should not have any adverse consequences on ordinary Belarusians, who should not be isolated. However, the EU has made it clear that it will reduce visa fees only once Belarus joins the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP).

We, the undersigned, considering that the maintenance of such high fees is in contradiction with their undertaking not to isolate ordinary Belarusians, ask the European Union and European governments to reduce visa fees and simplify visa procedures for Belarusian citizens in order to facilitate their mobility as much as possible.