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Visa free travel regime RUS-EU (Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Interview to TV) [message #132] Wed, 18 November 2009 01:20
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Transcript of Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov Interview to TV Channel Vesti, November 11, 2009

Question: Sergey Viktorovich, good afternoon! If I may, I want to start with the topic that, in my opinion, interests the maximum number of our viewers; it's the prospect of a visa-free regime in Russia and the EU. Recently Dutch Minister for European Affairs Frans Timmermans said that he had held some consultations and that in his view it was a prospect of not two or three, as said before, but of five to ten years. There are some complications, aren't there? How are the negotiations going?

Lavrov: We find it hard to understand our European partners, because the visa-free dialogue has been one of the forms of our cooperation, and it was launched quite a long time ago. As early as 2004 the then President of the EU Commission, Romano Prodi, having vigorously backed up this idea, said that it was quite realistic to provide visa-free travel for the citizens of Russia and the European Union by 2008. But, unfortunately, the current makeup of the European Commission has approached this question in a rather overbureaucratized way and we have currently not progressed to a specific "road map" for us to agree within a reasonable period of time. We want to set this period and reach an agreement.

Our proposals are on the table. The visa-free dialogue is conducted regularly, with several rounds already held and additional ones scheduled. However, we believe, without setting a specific date and devising concrete measures needed to agree such a regime, it would be difficult to expect a result. We are seeking from our partners in the European Union a very simple thing: Tell us what Russia should do for you to reach such an agreement with us. We, in turn, as Russia's leadership has repeatedly stated over the past three years, are ready to shift to a visa-free regime even tomorrow, without any preconditions.

I hope that goodwill will be forthcoming on the other side too. Speaking of trips abroad, it should be noted that Russian citizens travel not only to Europe. In addition to European countries, we are engaged in about twenty negotiations with our partners to facilitate the visa regime; in five cases that will be a visa-free regime. This is about Nicaragua, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Mongolia. So not only with Europe do we seek to make travel conditions easier for our citizens, but also with other states. A simplified regime is in place with European countries so far, which extends to a number of categories of our citizens favorable enough conditions for obtaining visas, including long-term, up to five years, and multiple.

Question: The prospect of facilitation or, perhaps, the introduction of a visa-free regime with the five countries that you have mentioned this is a prospect of what time?

Lavrov: It is about the coming months. With respect to Chile, we expect to sign such an agreement right next week.

Sincerely yours, Mr. Repovesi
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