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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

Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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