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BRUSSELS, October 17 (Itar-Tass). — Russia and the European Union "have practically completed the implementation of joint steps towards a transition to a visa-free regime and they may announce this at the forthcoming summit this winter, Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation at the EU, told Itar-Tass in an interview.
The last group of Russian experts on the last, the fourth, set of the steps — foreign relations and human rights — completed its tour of six EU countries on October 4. The European group also finalized its work in Russia. Thereby, the phase of the exchange of missions is over.
"Without temporizing, it is possible to prepare a decision before yearend to fix the completion of the implementation of the joint steps. Generally speaking, there is a possibility to announce at the forthcoming Russia-EU summit this winter the completion of the phase of implementation of joint steps and commencement of talks on an agreement to this effect. Or the European side would have to explain distinctly why it is not prepared to do that," Chizhov said.
"The need to make a decision on the start of talks on an agreement on a visa-free regime will be the first out of three 'moments of truth' for the EU. The second will be the question of signing the document and the third one will state its ratification and entering into force," he pointed out.
When speaking of misgivings being expressed by some European politicians that a visa-free regime with Russia would lead to a qualitative growth of migration to EU countries, the diplomat referred to such misgivings as unfounded ones. "This does not refer to an abrogation of border control. Russia does not intend to become part of the Schengen Area. Border control remains intact, becoming still more effective following the introduction of biometric passports. Therefore, there is no reason at all to speak of an uncontrolled influx of migrants," Vladimir Chizhov emphasized.