Russia Waits for EU to Make its Move in Visa Free Talks

GORKI (Moscow Region), March 21 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday said certain progress has been made in visa-free agreements talks with the European Union and Moscow currently expects the EU to react.

Medvedev told journalists from European media outlets in an interview that “we have achieved certain progress on this issue, we agreed on the so-called list of common steps.”

He said that the sides also “face certain problems, because progress on a whole range of topics has stalled.”

“This is our mutual interest and at the moment, as they say, the ball goes to the European Union,” he said. “We are waiting for [the EU] stance to be finalized.”

Russia’s chief negotiator on the issue, Ambassador at Large Anvar Azimov, said last week that the bilateral visa-free travel agreement is unlikely to be signed before late 2014. However, visa regime may be lifted for holders of Russian official passports in 2013.

Moscow has made visa-free travels with 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.

Earlier this month, 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, fight against illegal migration, transnational organized crime, terrorism and corruption.


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