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Russian, Turkish foreign ministers discuss easing of visa conditions

This includes visa-free border crossing for long-distance drivers

MOSCOW, April 28. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that he discussed with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu the further relaxation of visa requirements, including visa-free border crossing for long-distance drivers.

"Today, we discussed issues that concern the further easing of the visa regime [between Russia and Turkey,]" Lavrov said at a news conference on Saturday. "Some time ago the Russian side suggested making some specific steps at this stage: firstly, to revive the visa-free regime for owners of service passports; secondly, to provide visa-free border crossing for long-distance drivers who are involved in international transport operations."

"Our Turkish friends promised to react. I guess it will be a tangible move for a whole number of categories of our citizens," Lavrov said. "We’ve got plans to extend categories who will use an easier visa regime and a visa-free regime, and overall we are interested in moving towards this goal."

In 2010, an agreement was signed under which citizens of two countries could stay in Russia and Turkey visa-free for more than 30 days. On January 1, 2016, Moscow suspended the operation of the visa-free regime with Ankara. This measure was taken after Turkey had shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber on the border with Syria on November 24, 2015.

On April 15, 2016, Ankara introduced a visa regime for Russian citizens entering Syria with a service passport. That said, owners of diplomatic and general civil passports could still visit Turkey without obtaining a visa. On June 1, 2016, the Turkish side extended its visa regime for professional drivers and people accompanying them who have Russian citizenship and carry out cargo and passenger operations to Turkey.

In October 2016, the Turkish side raised the issue of lifting earlier introduced visa restrictions. However, after the murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrei Karlov on December 19, 2016, Moscow took the decision to freeze negotiations on this issue for an indefinite period.