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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 cant 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 cant 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

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during todays Djembe and Vuvuzela, a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of todays round table discussion on Interaction with Trade Unions being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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