WARSAW, March 20 (RIA Novosti) – Poland supports the introduction of a visa-free regime between European Union countries and Russia, Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said Wednesday.
“We are striving to include the citizens of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova, as well as Russia, in a visa-free system,” Sikorski said in his annual message to parliament.
A delegation of European commissioners is expected to arrive in Moscow on Thursday for talks that will focus on visas, among other major bilateral issues. Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, has been quoted by Russian media as saying the delegation will comprise 16 commissioners, nearly twice as many as the last such meeting.
Sikorski noted the positive experience of travel between border regions of Russia and Poland, where since last summer, residents of the Kaliningrad Region, Russia’s exclave on the Baltic Sea, and Polish border regions have been able to cross the border without visas.
He also spoke in favor of political integration between the EU and United States on one side and Russia and Ukraine on the other, which, he said, would allow the West to retain its influence amid the growing strength of Asian powers.
Moscow has made visa-free travel with the EU a foreign policy priority. Russia submitted a draft deal on scrapping the visa regime to the EU at a Russia-EU summit in 2010, but the EU has been reluctant to move ahead with the issue amid concerns that it could lead to a rise in crime and illegal immigration.
On March 11, Russia and the EU resolved to continue dialogue on a visa-free regime, with the EU agreeing to discuss visa-free travel for Russian officials who hold special passports. The same day, the European Commission (EC) published a list of common steps towards a visa-free regime with Russia.
The steps include a requirement for both Russia and the EU to ensure document security and to fight against illegal migration, transnational organized crime, terrorism and corruption.