The consular department celebrates its 200 years
The 22th of April in the press-center of RIA “Novosti” took place a press-conference of the director of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Andrey Karlov, confined to the 200 anniversary of the Consular Service in Russia.
For the date of the Consular department foundation is considered the 15 May 1809. This day the emperor Alexandre I signed the decree to assign an expedition of the consular affairs into the independent structure in the network of the Ministry of the Foreign Affairs. Though the Consulates their selves appeared much earlier – in the 18th century already under Peter I. Their Foundation was made for the adjustment of the trade connections with different countries and for the protection of the rights of Russians in foreign countries. Such a way in 1711 the first European Consulate was open in Venice. The creation of the Institute of honorary Consulars as well as the appearance of the new political tasks for the State consulates dates form the second part of the 18th century.
The Consular Department has its actual look since the 5th November 1998 when in accordance with the decree of the president of the Russian Federation was stated the regulations about the Consulate in Russian Federation and Department its self entered into the structure of Ministry of the Foreign Affairs.
For today the priority direction in the affairs of the service is the security of the Russian citizens in the foreign countries and support of the political and diplomatic cooperation between Russia and other countries. Especially it is important the last years of the active revival of the international relations of the Russian Federation.
Then the Consulates work with foreign citizens who want to visit the Russian Federation. For the last 10 years the stream of arrivals increased 10 times and in the 2008 3 million foreigners have visited Russia.
For the higher work level there were elaborated 13 administrative regulations with a detailed description of the Consular affairs. These documents were written for the first time in the history of the Consulates. Their purpose is to regulate and stabilize the procedure of the work with requests of the citizens.
Of course with the expansion of the consular purposes and international relations of Russia the number of the state Consulates increased all over the world. For the moment in 142 countries function 234 Consulates. 15 of them have been open during the last 8 years, for example, in Frankfort on the Main, in Palermo, in Toronto.
This net is not enough, but today due to financial problems the opening of the new Consulates is impossible. That's why the participation of the honorary Consulars is more and more active.
The institute of the honorary Consulars has a very long history. Before the revolution, according to Karlov, Russia served 300 honorary Consulars. Later during the Soviet Revolution there was only one honorary Consular in one of the countries of Latin America. But in the 90th years the institute began to revive.
The honorary Consular doesn't posses the privileges of the official Consular, he doesn't issue visas and doesn't have right for several juridical actions. Often former Russian citizens, who live since long ago out of Russia, become honorary Consulars. The honorary Consular can become the representative of the residence country, for example,a respected business man. The candidacy is largely discussed with the local government and usually there are no problems.
The Consular service deals as well with elaboration and improvement of the federal laws concerning the arrival and the departure of the citizens in Russia, the legal position of the foreign citizens and the migration control. The creation of the favorable conditions for the entry of foreign citizens is an important work of the department.
Giving response on the questions of journalists Mr. Karlov confirmed again the readiness of Russia to sign the agreement for the visa free regime between Russia and the EU.
So in 2007 foreign citizens respecting all the necessary conditions can receive visa in Russia for 3 months, one year or the direct letter of invitation.
While commenting the question about the price of the Russian visa for the foreign citizens, Andrey Karlov has emphasized the fact that visa price for the citizens of the EU is strictly fixed in the agreement. But in the Consulate the visa is issued without any extra fees while in visa centers the visa price can be higher and it depends on the concrete Consulate. The visa price in other countries varies according to the principle of mutuality against the price of the similar visa in the resident countries for the Russian citizens.