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Russia-EU visa talks hampered by EU lack of political will

January 22, 2014, 17:18 UTC+3 BRUSSELS
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BRUSSELS, January 22. /ITAR-TASS/. The lack of political will on the part of Europeans is a factor restraining the negotiations on visa issues between Russia and the European Union, Russia's Ambassador to the EU said on Wednesday.

“Everything stumbles over the lack of political will,” he told Russian reporters in Brussels.

According to the ambassador, the Russian side hoped that the 32nd Russia-EU summit, due in Brussels on January 28, “will give a political signal” for the launch of negotiations on the conclusion of an agreement on short-term visa-free travel of Russia's and EU citizens.

“The latest meeting of the Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council on Freedom and Justice has unfortunately confirmed that our partners are not ready to take this step,” Chizhov said. However, he noted, “we do not see any technical, legal and organisational obstacles to the beginning of such negotiations.”

“All that concerns the visa affairs should not be taken as the European Union’s concession to the Russian side. It’s a ‘two-way street’ situation,” he stressed.

The Russian ambassador said he believed that the European position was caused, in particular, by the fact that some EU countries tie the visa negotiations to the situation around the European Eastern Partnership Programme, also blaming Russia for the failure of the summit of the states, participating in the programme of political and economic rapprochement with the EU, held in Vilnius in November 2013, at which Ukraine was supposed to sign an association agreement with the EU.

As for the second track of Russia’s visa negotiations - a dialogue on the further simplification of the visa regime, according to Chizhov, “answers satisfying the European side were given to most EU questions, however, by the current summit the Europeans have no time to finish this work.” “Now this carrot will be hung at some point closer to the next summit,” the Russian ambassador concluded. In accordance with customary practice, the next, 33rd Russia-EU summit is to be held at the end of spring - beginning of summer of 2014.

In 2010, Russia and the European Union reached an active phase of the dialogue on easing the visa formalities. The sides in December 2011 jointly worked out and approved a list of “Joint Steps for the transition to a visa-free regime for short-term trips of Russian and EU citizens.” The implementation of this document was launched in the first half of 2012. The implementation of the Joint Steps, the work on which can be considered practically completed, is to open the way to the beginning of the development and conclusion of an agreement on cancelling the visa requirements for mutual short-term trips of Russian and EU citizens.

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