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EU Calls For Cheaper Belarus Visas, Reconsideration Of Hockey Decision

The Belarusian hockey team, seen here at a 2013 IIHF ice hockey world championship match in Sweden in May.
STRASBOURG -- The European Parliament has adopted a report calling on the EU to reduce the costs of visas for Belarusians.

The text, adopted by all major political parties, urges EU member states to facilitate the issuing of visas and to reduce the price from 60 euros ($80) to "an affordable level." It calls for the waiver of short-stay visas, especially for young people.

It also urges the International Ice Hockey Federation to "seriously reconsider" its decision to allow Belarus to host the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship.

The report, which reviews the EU's entire policy toward Belarus, maintains that the country must release its remaining political prisoners before visa bans and asset freezes on Belarusian officials and state companies can end.

It calls on Russia and Eastern Partnership countries to pressure Minsk on the issue.
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    Rikard Jozwiak

    Rikard Jozwiak is the Europe editor for RFE/RL in Prague, focusing on coverage of the European Union and NATO. He previously worked as RFE/RL’s Brussels correspondent, covering numerous international summits, European elections, and international court rulings. He has reported from most European capitals, as well as Central Asia.