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RF deputy ForMin says visa-free travel with EU a matter of few years

October 12, 2011, 14:47 UTC+3

“As our foreign minister has repeatedly said we are ready to abolish visas immediately. All depends on our partners", - Russian First Deputy FM Andrei Denisov

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MOSCOW, October 12 (Itar-Tass) — Visa-free travel between the European Union and Russia may be a reality in a foreseeable future, or within a few years, Russian First Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Denisov said on Wednesday at a session of the Federation Council upper house of the Russian parliament.

In the course of discussion of the ratification of agreements with Croatia and Norway on easing the visa regime for certain categories of population, the lawmakers were curious to know when visa to the European Union might be completely abolished. Denisov, who presented the above agreement on behalf of the foreign ministry, said that although work towards visa abolishment is in progress, there are certain obstacles on this path.

“Russia’s key partner in the visa-free dialogue is the European Union,” he noted. “As our foreign minister has repeatedly said we are ready to abolish visas immediately. All depends on our partners. I can’t say they are eager to speed up the negotiating process.”

Nonetheless, he said, the work “goes on.” “I can say that in the foreseeable future, or in a few years,” it will be over, he said and reminded that in 2006 Russian signed an agreement with the European Union simplifying visa-issuing procedures, which came into force in 2009.

He also said certain progress has been achieved in visa talks with the United States, although U.S. laws are characterised by somewhat different approached to such issues. “Despite this, we are making progress,” he stressed.

Denisov also drew attention of lawmakers to such practices as simplifying visa-issuing procedures to certain categories of population between Russia and a number of countries. “Russia currently has 100 such agreements. Sixteen more are being worked on,” he added.

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