Border opens up to neighbours

House of Representatives’ deputies ratify inter-governmental agreement between Belarus and Poland on rules of cross-border movement, at sixth session

By Yekaterina Nechaeva

According to Belarus’ Deputy Foreign Minister, Valery Voronetsky, Belarus will be able to start implementing the treaty from April 2011. Residents of the border territories of Belarus and Poland will be able to enjoy simplified border crossing within 30km of the common border. A list of cities and towns situated within the border area is set out in the agreement’s appendix: Grodno, Brest, Vysokoe, Pruzhany, Zhabinka and Malorita in Belarus and Biala Podlaska on the Polish side.

The agreement applies to residents of border areas who have lived there for at least three years, allowing them to purchase a 20 euro special permit for cross-border movement. These are issued for a period of two to five years and allow the right to stay in the territory of the other state for up to 90 days within any six month period. However, all citizens must register within the territory of the neighbouring state, according to established procedure.

The Deputy Foreign Minister tells us that the treaty will positively influence the development of bilateral relationships, while intensifying economic collaboration in the border areas. Contacts between local public authorities and business circles should be strengthened. However, the treaty could also bring problems, such as longer queues at border checkpoints, attempts at illegal migration and shuttle trade in goods which bear different prices in Belarus and Poland. According to Mr. Voronetsky, such consequences could be ‘minimised by taking necessary preventive measures’.
Poland has already informed Belarus that it has passed all inter-state procedures necessary for the implementation of the agreement.

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