MOSCOW, October 30 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow does not rule out the European Union may lift the moratorium on visa-free trips for members of Russian aviation crews, Director of Russian Foreign Ministry’s Consular Department Andrei Karlov said on Tuesday.
On October 26, spokesman of Russia’s Foreign Ministry Alexander Lukashevich said that from November 1 aviation companies of the European Union flying into the Russian Federation should obtain Russian visas. At the request from Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Transport, Russia’s Border Service made a decision they would not bring to responsibility to October 31 crews of regular flights if they do not have Russian visas, however further extension of the moratorium is not planned.
Karlov said that the visa moratorium was bilateral. “We have informed the European counterparts and aviation companies from other countries well in advance, that after October 31 the moratorium is over,” he said. “We have offered to the EU making changes to the agreement of 2006, but it has not happened and not for our fault.”
He said that “Russia has initially suggested the countries making regular flights to the Russian Federation should sign a bilateral agreement.” “We had intensive negotiations with Czech colleagues, but later on the EU took this topic to its competence,” he continued. “Now the EU gives the right /to sign an agreement/ to its members, and the negotiations continue, but you understand it is practically impossible to sign an intergovernmental agreement within a week or two.”
Karlov said there were several agreements with the EU countries on that topic.
“There are agreements stating crews of the two countries may fly without limitations, and there are documents, like the one with Spain, for example, where the text refers to the companies enjoying it /visa-free regime/,” he explained. “If, for example, the text states an airport, then another Russian company cannot fly without visas.”
Speaking about retaliatory acts from the EU, the diplomat said “as we were informing them, some were stating it /lifting the moratorium/ would be effective for Russia, too.”
“But this is a regular international practice,” Karlov said. “The principle of reciprocity still exists.”