16 January 2017, Monday, 14:00

Vytis Jurkonis: No Romantic Period In Belarus-EU Relations

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VYTIS JURKONIS
PHOTO: DELFI

The importance of Lukashenka’s decree on the 5-days visa-free regime should not be overestimated.

Lithuanian political analyst Vytis Jurkonis has called Lukashenka’s decree on the 5-days visa free regime for the citizens of 80 countries “unexpected” and “positive”, but underlined that the significance of this decision should not be overestimated, in an interview to Radio Liberty.

“In Lithuania, we consider this step positive, but still it is just one aspect in a whole spectrum of issues in the relations with Belarus. Of course, this decision allows the EU citizens and the citizens of other countries make short journeys to Belarus, but everyone realizes this is quite a limited measure – for example, one cannot travel from Vilnius to Minsk by automobile or by train. So, this decision seems quite limited, although positive, especially at the level of tourism and human relations. It is also possible that it will ease the contacts in the business and academic sphere.

However, the importance of this decree should not be over-estimated - we shouldn’t expect it will lead to a big turn or move at the interstate level. There are still sore issues: the NPP, the small border traffic (the decision remains untaken, it’s Belarus’ move now), the January 13 case (the criminal case on storming the TV-center in Vilnius on January 13, 1991 – Editor) – all these issues remain on the agenda,” – the Lithuanian expert underlines.

Lukashenka’s decree will not seriously speed up signing of the agreement on simplification of visa regime between Belarus and the EU, Jurkonis thinks.

«I believe this decision will contribute to the negotiations. However, it should not be perceived like, we made a step and expect something in return. Certain technical moments, demands must be fulfilled. I mean, this seems not serious to think of the whole process as a sort of a trade. The decision on the 5-days visa free regime is beneficial for both the citizens of the EU who will have an opportunity to visit Belarus, and the tourism industry of Belarus (it is also a good reason for advertising). This is a good step, but it would also be good to avoid euphoria or expectations of some romantic period in the relations between Belarus and the EU, – the political analyst has summarized.