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Belarus abolishes visa requirements for Polish citizens for six months

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By Euronews  with AFP
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko smiles while speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Sochi in May 2022
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko smiles while speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin during their meeting in Sochi in May 2022   -   Copyright  Ramil Sitdikov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Belarus says it has abolished visa requirements for Polish nationals in a bid to foster "good neighbourly" relations.

The decision to introduce a "temporary visa-free entry regime" for six months came from President Alexander Lukashenko, according to Belarus' National Border Guard Committee.

This measure will be in force from 1 July to 31 December, the committee added.

Polish citizens will now also be able to travel to the Belarusian border areas without special permission. Instead, citizens will have to verbally explain why they are in the area and where they intend to visit, a statement read.

Lukashenko has already allowed citizens of Lithuania and Latvia to travel to Belarus without a visa until the end of the year.

The surprise announcement comes amid heightened tensions between Belarus and the European Union over Minsk's support for Russia during the war in Ukraine.

The EU has also accused Belarus of facilitating illegal migration to try and destabilise the bloc. Lukashenko has denied the allegations.

On Thursday, Poland accused Belarusian authorities of failing to tackle the vandalism of Polish graves and war memorials.

Many Polish soldiers are buried in western Belarus, an area that used to belong to Poland before World War II.

"We strongly condemn that local authorities have created an atmosphere of acquiescence to such practices," Polish foreign ministry spokesman Łukasz Jasina said in a statement.

"We appeal to the Belarusian authorities to immediately put an end to acts of vandalism in cemeteries and to reveal and account for the perpetrators. Poland firmly demands respect for the graves and commemoration of the deceased," he added.

Additional sources • Reuters