BRUSSELS, October 7. /ITAR-TASS/. European Union's incoming High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, said on Monday she planned demanding explanations from Moscow over a blacklist of EU officials and parliamentary deputies who were banned from visiting Russia.
Mogherini, who was expected to quit the position of Italy's Foreign Minister in November, said it was totally unacceptable that a list of this kind existed and that it had not been published with appropriate comments to date.
She said it while taking questions at a session of the European Parliament's committee for foreign policy when she was asked about her attitude to the denial of entry of Russia to MEP Rebecca Harms
Harms, who is known for her vociferous support for the incumbent Ukrainian government, decided to visit Moscow for attending court trial of the Ukrainian Air Force pilot Nadiya Savchenko, whom Moscow accuses of espionage and complicity in the activities, which resulted in the death of Russian reporters in eastern Ukraine.
She was stopped by passport control officials upon landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo international airport September 25 and was put on a return flight to Brussels three hours later. The officials told her she had been declared persona non grata.
Mogherini said that if she was endorsed at her new position by the European Parliament, she would challenge Moscow's decision.
Russian Ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov said earlier the decision to deny entry to MEP Harms had been taken regardless of her plans to attend court procedures over the Savchenko case but was a relatiatory measure the Russian side had resorted to after the EU had banned the issuance of travel visas to a big enough group of deputies of the State Duma and the Federation Council.
“The situation is that Ms. Rebecca Harms, who is a member of European Parliament representing Germany and a co-chairperson of the Greens caucus, decided to go to Moscow and to take part in the court trial of Nadezhda Savchenko, a senior lieutenant of the Ukrainian Air Force charged with espionage and involvement in the activities that resulted in the death of Russian reporters,” Chizhov said.
“The fact that Ms. Harms used a German diplomatic passport while she was actually going to make the trip as a private individual she didn’t have a mandate from the European Parliament as far as I know - remains on her head,” he said.
As a holder of a diplomatic passport, Harms did have the power to enter Russia without a visa and that is why she did not apply for it.
“If she had used a different passport and had applied for a visa, she’d have received a denial,” Chizhov said. “Moscow has prohibited her entries of the Russian territory - without any connection to the Savchenko case but as a reciprocal measure introduced after the EU had placed a big enough group of members of the Russian parliament on its blacklists.”
“On a purely human level, one can only regret Ms. Harms had to spend some time at Sheremetyevo /one of Moscow’s international airports - Itar-Tass/ before being put on a return flight but to tell you frankly, her stay there wasn’t very long, just three and a half hours,” the ambassador said.
He pointed out an emotional reaction to the event on the part of the EU’s foreign policy service and the European Parliament including its President Martin Schultz who described the very facto of a denial of entry to a MEP totally inadmissible.
“I can only say to this that the EU’s decision to ban entry visas to a group of members of Russian parliament is even more inadmissible because it was a bluntly political measure while the Russian stop list is a purely retaliatory step,” Chizhov said.
“Some people ask why these lists haven’t been made public,” he said. “Well, that’s part of our practice in this case. But if Ms. Harms had asked me personally or members of my staff, we’d have recommended her to refrain from this trip.