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Lavrov Speaks Out on EU Visas

Published: October 10, 2012 (Issue # 1730)



  • Lavrov believes the delay in the introduction of visa-free travel between Russia and the EU is politically-motivated.
    Photo: FOREIGN MINISTRY

MOSCOW — The European Union might be dragging out the possible cancellation of the visa regime with Russia, since the main reason this goal can’t be reached could be of a political nature, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday.

“We have a feeling that … the reasons on the side of our partners from the European Union are not of a technical or administrative nature,” he said at a meeting with the leaders of the Association of European Businesses. “The information is coming to us that the main reason is political,” he said without specifying the sources.

Lavrov suggested that delays in making the final decision on lifting visa requirements might be based on the “solidarity principle” in the European Union and that introducing a visa-free regime with Russia before lifting visa regulations between the European Union and the countries in the EU neighborhood, like Ukraine, Armenia and Georgia “might be politically unacceptable.”

“If this is so, it is a purely politicized approach that does not take into account what Russia has actually done to ensure the safety of a visa-free regime and is based exclusively on political feasibility,’ he said.

He said that he plans to discuss the issue at a meeting with his counterparts from the EU countries that will take place in Luxembourg next week, and he hopes they will dispel any doubts about their motives.

Meanwhile, Soren Liborius, a spokesman for the EU delegation in Russia, described such assumptions as groundless, saying making travel across borders easy for both Russians and Europeans is critical for the bloc.

“We are working as fast as we can to advance the preparation for launching the talks on visa-free travel,” he said by telephone.

Lavrov said that upon request from Moscow, the European Union had provided a full list of problems Russia needs to resolve to facilitate the cancellation of the visa regime.

Based on that list, the sides agreed on mutual steps that should be taken to end the need for visas, including the introduction of biometric passports, combating illegal immigration and law enforcement cooperation.

“After that, there is nothing preventing us from sitting down and signing a simple and understandable agreement on introducing a visa-free regime for short-term trips for the citizens of Russia and the Shengen countries,” Lavrov said.

He insisted that Europe analyze the reasons why this goal can’t be achieved in the fastest possible way and said he hopes that the sides would sign an agreement on easing visa rules by Nov. 1, an interim step before lifting the regulations completely.

Easing or canceling visa regulations is critical for boosting economic cooperation with the European Union, which remains the No. 1 trade partner for Russia, Lavrov said, adding that mutual trade reached $400 billion last year.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Sunday, Nov. 23


Get in the holiday spirit at today’s Winter Bazzar at the Astoria Hotel. Featuring gifts from around the world such as French eclairs, Dutch cheeses and Indian jewelry, the annual event organized by the International Women’s Club will feature 18 international stands and raise money for charity through the sales of a diversity of products that further illustrate the city’s international connections.



Monday, Nov. 24


Dr. Axel Schulte, Department Head at Fraunhofer Institute for Material Flow and Logistics in Dortmund, Germany, is the featured speaker at the SPIBA Industrial Committee lecture on “The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Digitalization of the Supply Chain.” The event begins at 4 p.m. at the Graduate School of Management at 3 Volkohvsky Pereulok and registration is required by Nov. 21 either by emailing office@spiba.ru or calling 325 9091.



Tuesday, Nov. 25


Tag along with AmCham during their “Industrial St. Petersburg” Tour program today. This incarnation of the ongoing series will visit Philip Morris Izhora and include an Environmental Health and Safety Committee meeting.


Find out how to expand your business east during the “Business With China” forum beginning today and concluding tomorrow at the Lenexpo convention center. The largest Russian forum dedicated to business with the Asian giant, topics that will be discussed include logistics, customs clearance, trade financing and many more.



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