MOSCOW, November 28 (Itar-Tass) — The second expert mission of the European Union on visa issues will work in Russia from November 28 to December 8, Russian Foreign Ministry’s Ambassador at Large Anvar Azimov said.
“In the middle of 2012 the Russian Federation and the European Union started the most important phase of our work on the implementation of the ‘joint steps’ – the exchange of expert missions on an equal basis,” Azimov said. “This means that an expert mission of the EU and its member states comes to us to work on each set of documents, and our representatives, experts from various departments come to the EU to work on the same set of documents.”
According to him, the first EU mission that has visited Russia on the first set (passport security) arrived at the conclusion that the state of affairs with document security in Russia is more than satisfactory. “They did not hide the fact that security of our documents in many ways is better that of similar documents in the EU,” the Ambassador at Large said.
“Tomorrow the second EU mission comprising 10 experts and European Commission officials will begin its work – it will study the issues related to migration, readmission, asylum and border management,” Azimov said at a press conference on Tuesday. “In the period from November 28 to December 8 they will be here and visit the border crossing points between Russia and Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan. They also expressed the desire to visit the Russian-Belarusian border.” During a month after the completion of the mission the experts shall submit a report on the second set of documents, he added.
“We have structured our work so that on the first and second sets of documents, the Russian expert missions will visit Brussels and the EU countries on December 10 – 20,” he continued. “And likewise, within a month’s time after the mission, the experts will present a report to the EU side.”
The diplomat said that Moscow is suggesting to the EU speeding up the process of lifting the visa requirements, so that from July 1, 2013 to start working on a text of the agreement on the matter. According to him, at the recent meeting of senior officials the Russian side offered to the EU a roadmap of quicker progress on joint steps.
Under the roadmap, two blocks of questions – on passport security and illegal migration – should be settled fully prior to the Russia-EU summit on December 21 in Brussels. Within first six months of the coming year, the sides would “exchange expert missions and reports on the third and fourth blocks of documents, so that on July 1, as most “joint steps” are undertaken, to start drafting the most important document – that on lifting the visa regime.”
In the view of the Ambassador, this work should be finalised within six months. Then, he explained, the document may be adopted during the Russia-EU summit due in December of 2013, so that to have a visa-free regime in place before the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi (2014).
Russia will come out in favour of intensified fulfilment of “joint steps” to cancel visas with the European Union at the summit in Brussels on December 21, the Ambassador at Large informed. “The Russian president intends to talk to partners in a key of principle at a RF-EU summit in Brussels (December 21). He intends to come out in favour of intensifying these “joint steps” (on the cancelation of visas).
Azimov said that Moscow may draw certain conclusions, if before the end of 2013 there is no breakthrough in the visa-free dialogue with the EU. “We shall continue the work persistently within the framework of intensifying the process (of visa cancellation),” he said. “If before end of 2013 there is no breakthrough in preparations for the agreement, Russia is most likely to draw certain conclusions. We are ready to have enough tolerance for a year.” The year 2013 is the moment of truth in the visa-free dialogue with the EU, he added.
The diplomat pointed out that 17 countries of the European Union are for lifting the visa requirements, while 10 countries are certain that “we should be taking forever” those “joint steps.”