Visiting Belarus visa-free

Statement by Mr.Valentin Rybakov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, at High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development of the United Nations General Assembly, New York, October 3, 2013

Today's event gives us all a good opportunity to discuss migration issues in the broad context of advancing towards the global development agenda for the post-2015 period.

International migration today is a significant factor of the development of countries and entire regions. Belarus is not an exception in this regard. Migration policy is an important component of my country’s national development planning processes.

Enacted legislation, policies that promote national and cultural diversity and absence of conflicts on national, ethnic or religious grounds contribute to the flow of immigrants. Migrants arriving in Belarus enjoy the same rights as the Belarusian citizens.

Migration legislation of Belarus takes into account international experience and generally accepted legal norms and principles, including key elements of the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families. In 2011, Belarus enacted a new version of the Law on the External Labor Migration, according to which all migrant workers, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, language, religion, political beliefs, in case they do not interfere with the execution of the work duties, enjoy equal rights to enter the territory of Belarus.

Belarus adopted and implements National Program on Demographic Security for 2011-2015 containing a set of measures to address migration issues in the interests of national development.

Since 2012, in order to attract migrant workers into the country and taking into account national investment and educational potential, we reduced the review period leading to the issuing of permanent residence permit for aliens for whom an employer files an application.

I would like to note that Belarus, like many other countries, faces the problem of emigration of highly qualified specialists – the so-called “brain drain”. We believe that the solution to this problem lies not only in the area of national measures taken to improve social and economic conditions of the relevant categories of population. It is equally important to establish partnerships with the destination countries, including streamlined recruitment practices of Belarusian experts in foreign countries as well as cooperation in the field of professional training of the personnel in Belarus.

At present, Belarus has elaborated a draft legislative act that provides for the issuance of a permanent residence permit to those stateless persons who have no permanent country of residence and who reside in Belarus over a long time. This draft also contains the following provisions:

 — those aliens who become employed by profession acquired at a Belarusian educational establishment will be exempt from receiving a special work permit;

 — professionals with exceptional capabilities and talent will be provided with favorable conditions for moving into and resettling in Belarus.

Belarus is interested in fostering international cooperation on migration issues at bilateral, regional and global levels.

We have established a dynamic cooperation with the International Organization for Migration. With the IOM’s support an International center for training of personnel in the field of migration and combatting human trafficking was opened in Belarus in 2007. The Center runs training activities for the representatives of national and international law enforcement agencies. In May 2013, with the financial support of the Russian Federation, the Center hosted a seminar for the Group of Friends United Against Human Trafficking, during which the representatives from different regions shared their legislative and law enforcement experience in the field of preventing illegal migration and combatting human trafficking.

In the current year, Belarus holds the Presidency of the Commonwealth of Independent States. In this connection I would like to draw your attention to the regional position of the CIS Member States on migration issues which was previously circulated as an official document of the current session of the UN General Assembly. This position, which was prepared in the context of today’s dialogue on international migration and development, confirms the United Nation’s role and influence on the shaping of the principles of the CIS States’ migration policies and underlines the intention of the states of the Commonwealth to pursue comprehensive interaction in the areas related to the impact of migration on sustainable development.

Belarus welcomes the activities of the UN system related to migration issues. We are pleased that the subject of migration and the protection of rights of migrants have been reflected in the new strategic plans of the main UN agencies – UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and UN Women.

In our opinion, however, UN and other international organizations and groupings should play a more active role in order to build and strengthen networks on migration and development, identify best practices and provide for knowledge and information basis for policy-making in the field of migration and development.

I am confident that the current dialogue under the auspices of the UN will facilitate addressing this and many other issues related to international migration and development. Belarus is ready to do everything to contribute to such work.