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ATHENS, December 13, 3:31 /ITAR-TASS/. An agreement on easing the visa regime between Russia and the European Union is practically ready, but Brussels drags feet on signing it, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told Russian reporters after talks with leadership of the Greek Foreign Ministry within the framework of consultations between the two ministries.
In reply to the query whether it was possible to agree on a visa free regime with one country of the Schengen Agreement on condition the tourists would not enter other countries, Meshkov said the Schengen Agreement did not envisage that. “As you known, the demand to introduce a visa regime was imposed even on island countries, such as Cyprus and Malta, which is nonsense to a great extent, as of course there is a 100-percent possibility to control the people leaving island countries,” he said. “That is why, the only way is the way of negotiations, which we are doing now,” he added.
According to the top Russian diplomat, “an agreement to ease visa formalities between Russia and the EU is practically ready, but when it will be signed is another issue”. “And the answer is only in Brussels, as the Russian side is ready for signing this agreement,” Meshkov said. “Also Russia is ready to immediately begin negotiations on the signing of the agreement on a visa free regime between Russia and the European Union. Major preparatory work was done, the so-called steps in preparations for these talks were made,” he said.
He said Russia and the EU had voiced their recommendations in that teamwork. “So once again the answer rests with our partners, and we would not want to see this negotiating process become a sort of perpetuum-mobile,” Meshkov added. “We are in favor of serious negotiations and an early signing of the agreement. The ball is on the EU side, and the European Union must make up its mind as to when it will be ready to begin these talks with us,” he added.