House of Representatives committee recommends ratification of Belarusian-Polish agreement on local border traffic

Signed in Warsaw on February 12, 2010, the accord provides for the possibility for people who reside within 30 kilometers of the Belarusian-Polish border...

The House of Representatives’ international affairs committee on September 28 decided to recommend the House to ratify a Belarusian-Polish agreement on local border traffic at its forthcoming fall session that begins on October 4, BelaPAN reports.

Signed in Warsaw on February 12, 2010, the accord provides for the possibility for people who reside within 30 kilometers of the Belarusian-Polish border to cross the border without a visa, Deputy Foreign Minister Valery Varanetski told the committee.

To be eligible, a person should have resided in the area for no less than three years.

Such residents will have to pay €20 for a special local border traffic permit that would allow them to stay within the 30-kilometer border zone on the other side of the border for no more than 30 days and up to a total of 90 days within six months.

The holders of special local border traffic permits, which will be issued for a period of between two and five years, would have no right to go outside the zone, Mr. Varanetski stressed.

In addition, they would be required to get registered by the appropriate agency after crossing the border.

If a city spreads beyond the 30-kilometer zone, the entire city is considered part of the zone, Mr. Varanetski said, adding that Belarus’ zone includes Brest, Hrodna, Pruzhany, Zhabinka, Malaryta and other cities.

The agreement applies to some 1,100,000 people in Belarus and about 600,000 people in Poland.

Poland has already completed all internal procedures for the agreement to take effect.

Mr. Varanetski noted that a similar agreement had been signed with Latvia, and that the negotiation process for such an accord with Lithuania was nearing completion.

The agreement with Lithuania was scheduled to be signed during Alyaksandr Lukashenka's visit to Vilnius on September 16, 2009, but it still has not been signed.

According to Mr. Varanetski, the stumbling block is the fact that Lithuania’s regulations do not provide for a registration procedure for foreigners. Owing to this, it is likely that the agreement will not contain the registration requirement.