Lithuania asks EU to review visa policy on Belarus, Kaliningrad

VILNIUS, October 24 (Itar-Tass) -- Lithuania seeks the entry into the Schengen zone in 2007 but asks the European Union to consider simpler visa formalities for the South Caucasus and make an uncustomary decision on Belarus and the Russian Kaliningrad region.

The Lithuanian parliament has adopted a resolution "On EU Visa Policy" that urged Brussels to reduce Schengen visa charges on non-EU citizens. So far, it is planned to enlarge Schengen visa charges on citizens of Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia from 30 to 60 euros, while Kaliningrad residents will have to pay 25 euros for a Schengen visa starting from January 1, 2007.

At present, Kaliningrad residents receive Lithuanian entry visas for free, while the charge on Belarussian citizens is five euros.

"Russia and Belarus may also increase visa charges, following the Lithuanian accession to the Schengen zone," bill author Vaclav Stankevic said.

In the opinion of Lithuanian parliament deputies, higher Schengen visa charges on citizens of third countries do not meet the goals of the EU new neighborhood policy and humanitarian exchanges.

"The European Union should take into consideration the opinion of the Lithuanian Seimas, as it is a question of Lithuania's further cooperation with its neighbors," Stankevic said.