Work on a road map to discontinue roaming charges between Russia and Belarus has been suspended, reports Comnews.ru. The parties had originally been planning to sign an agreement on the issue at the end of September.
Belarus and other countries of the Eastern Partnership Initiative are ready and do their best in order to offer comfortable rates to mobile telephony subscribers, BelTA learned from Belarusian Communications and Informatization Minister Konstantin Shulgan before a presentation of the European Union’s new regional project “EU4Digital: Supporting digital economy and society in the Eastern Partnership” on 5 September.
The European Union supports efforts to reduce roaming rates in the Eastern Partnership region (Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine) via the EU4Digital project. “Just like other Eastern Partnership Initiative countries Belarus is ready and does its best in order to offer comfortable rates to subscribers, understanding of how prices for roaming services are set inside the country and abroad,” Konstantin Shulgan said. In his words, Belarus has already contacted several Eastern Partnership Initiative countries to work on the matter within the framework of bilateral relations.
The minister also reminded that the relevant negotiations with Russia are nearing completion. “Approaches to resolving the problem are identical in any country. Communications systems are built using the same principle. Peculiarities of the countries will be taken into account by the roadmap on resolving the problem,”
Konstantin Shulgan explained. The EU4Digital project is also designed to encourage the development of high-speed broadband communications, harmonize digital regulations in various fields: logistics, healthcare, and cybersecurity. Konstantin Shulgan also reminded that Belarus has something to offer in all of these spheres to other Eastern Partnership Initiative countries. A working meeting with representatives of the European Union will be held soon. These proposals will be fleshed out there and then. In turn, Charge d’Affaires of the Delegation of the European Union to Belarus Berend de Groot said that the project’s volume of finance is close to €10 million. Plans have been made to spend about €30 million on bilateral programs, which are being implemented by Belarus among other countries. If more money is required, it will have to be discussed with international financial institutions. For instance, negotiations about the possibility of investments in infrastructure to develop high-speed broadband communications are underway with the World Bank. A conference took place in Minsk on 5 September.
The EU4Digital project was presented before government agencies and organizations concerned during the conference. Specialists discussed prospects of Belarus‘ participation in implementing the project. The project is designed to spread the advantages of the common digital market of the European Union onto Eastern Partnership Initiative countries. It is also supposed to consolidate the European Union’s support for the development of digital economy and society.