Politics | September 27, 2001, Thursday // 00:00

Relaxed visa regulations for holders of diplomatic and official passports as well as business travelers and tourists from Russia and Ukraine to Bulgaria will be enforced on October 1. The Council of Ministers decided that on September 27. Deputy Foreign Minister Meglena Kuneva, who is also Bulgaria`s Chief Negotiator with the European Union announced the decision. `Business travelers will receive one-year multiple-entry visas after submitting the required documents,` Lyubomir Todorov, Director of the Foreign Ministry`s Consular Relations Directorate said. Tourists will only be charged the administrative costs of visas. A visa will cost the applicant USD 20 instead of the announced USD 50. Temporary visa offices will operate every summer in places in Russia which are starting-points of frequent charter flights to Bulgaria. Their location will be determined on the basis of statistical information of the Economy Ministry. The staff members of the diplomatic missions of Russia and Ukraine and their families will be allowed free entry and exit. Holders of diplomatic passports who do not work with these missions can travel without visas. On October 1, Russia will not introduce reciprocal relaxed visa regulations for Bulgarian nationals. Bilateral talks on an agreement to this end are currently underway. `The agreement may be signed in January 2002 the earliest,` Todorov said. The agreement will be concluded despite the lack of a bilateral agreement on readmission of aliens. A readmission agreement was signed recently with Ukraine. On October 1, Russia will introduce a full-scale visa regime for Bulgarian travelers. Asked whether Bulgarian nationals who are currently in Russia will have to return to their home country to get visas, Todorov answered that the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has not received such guidelines. `Bulgarians who have entered Ukraine before 1 October will be subject to the old regulations for 30 days after the date of entry,` Todorov said. `Bulgaria will probably be ready to introduce EU-standard visas in the first half of 2002,` Todorov added. According to him, these will be the first visas in the world with an integrated photo. There will be four types of visas: for airport transit, country transit, short-term stay, and long-term or permanent residence.

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