Visas Hinder Russia-EU Ties

BRUSSELS, December 21 (RIA Novosti) – The visa requirement is a restraining factor in Russia-EU relations, President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

Addressing a Russia-EU summit in Brussels, he said Moscow hopes to achieve a “shift” on the visa issue soon.

“I believe this work will advance without any politicization of the issue,” he said.

“The lack of free communication between people is a restraining factor in the development of our economic relations,” Putin said, adding that Russian-EU annual trade turnover is almost 400 billion, without specifying the currency.

Moscow has made visa-free travel between Russia and the EU a foreign policy priority.

Russia submitted a draft agreement on scrapping the visa regime to the EU at a Russia-EU summit in 2010, but Europe has so far been reluctant to move ahead with the issue amid concerns that a visa-free regime could lead to a rise in crime and illegal immigration.

Putin is expected to discuss the introduction of short-term visa-free travel for some categories as a step toward the broader liberalization of bilateral visa regulations.

The current summit is the 30th in the history of Russia-EU relations. The previous summit took place in St. Petersburg on June 3-4.

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