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MOSCOW, June 2 (Itar-Tass) —— The Kremlin expects no big progress at the talks on visa abolition between Russia and the European Union at the summit in St. Petersburg on June 3-4.
“One hard hardly expect anything positive to happen these days. But we will see,” presidential aide Yuri Ushakov said on Saturday, June 2.
He said, however, that “Russian President Vladimir Putin will convince his European colleagues [of the advisability of abolishing visas] and give examples of how this could facilitate the development of trade and economic relations,” Ushakov said, adding, “This is an important issue for Russians.”
“A transition to visa-free short-term trips by Russian and EU citizens will certainly be an issue at the talks. The sides have started implementing the agreed-upon Joint Steps. The abolition of visas will give a strong impetus to accelerate integration of Russia and the EU and will help broaden our mutually advantageous multi-faceted dialogue,” the official said.
The European Union is changing approaches to visa-free travel with Russia.
Last year, head of the EU delegation to Russia Fernando Valenzuela said that Russian citizens could count on five-year Schengen visas.
The abolition of visa formalities is a complex step, which requires big effort and time, he said, noting that the EU was prepared to facilitate visa formalities at the moment.
The European Union has considered various categories of citizens that may have visa preferences, but this does not mean visa-free travel, Valenzuela said.
If a Russian citizen is issued a EU visa once and no complaints have been made about his or her stay in Europe, he or she may receive a five-year visa next time, but this decision will not be mechanical, he said.
The European Union's Common Code on Visas, also known as the Visa Code, entered into force in April of 2010.
The agreement between the EU and Russia on simplified visa procedures, which became effective on June 1, 2007, remains in force and guarantees better visa terms to Russians travelling to Europe than citizens of third countries have, including a fixed visa fee of 35 euros, the EU Delegation to Russia said earlier.
The agreement between the EU and Russia on the facilitation of issuance of visas applies symmetrically to Russians travelling to the EU and to EU citizens travelling to Russia.
In addition to the fixed visa fee, it simplifies the list of the required documents, reduces the period of time during which a visa application should be considered from 15 to 10 days, and cancels the visa fee for a broad circle of people.
Visa-free travel between Russia and the EU remains an unconditional priority for Moscow, a Kremlin official said earlier.