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Visa-free regime for Russia and European Union in prospect

Visa-free regime for Russia and European Union in prospect

On April 8 in the informing agency “Rosbalt” took place the presentation of report “Make that you preach: the prospect for visa-free regime between Russia and European Union”. The report was presented by one of the authors – Arkady Moshes, director of the Russian program of the Finnish institute of international relations.

Mr. Moshes analyzed the problems in the contemporary visa relations between Russia and EU countries, their mutual claims and requirements.

First of all, Arkady Moshes noted that the contemporary visa system works actually on the limit of its possibilities. The flow of travelers from both countries grows, European consulates in their own way complicate the process of obtaining the visas for the Russian citizens. However, in Russia the required registration repulses foreigners. “The procedure of registration places European citizens in Russia to the unfavorable position in comparison with the Russians in the European Union. Registration is time-consuming and is burdensome for those, who live not in the hotel. Privet accommodation in this case is practically impossible. Russian tourists do not encounter such stringent requirements during the journeys to Europe”, emphasized Alexander Moshes.

Furthermore – and this is one of the main problems – Europeans in the case of visa cancellation for the Russian citizens are afraid to lose control over migration. For example, Europeans are confused by the fact that in the Caucasus Russian passports are issued. Besides the interrelations of Russia with Georgia make the harm to the image of the country.

Another problem disturbs Europe as well – the safety of people and documents. Europeans fear the possible falsification of travelling documents, passports. Furthermore, as it is noted in the report, Russia is not technically ready to open the borders.

Agreement about simplification in the visa regime between Russia and countries of the European Union entered in force already in summer of 2007. This agreement significantly simplified the procedure of issue the short term visas – to 90 days – for the most different categories of citizens the European Union and Russia, and it affected all European states, except Great Britain, Ireland and Denmark.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Lavrov repeated many times that Russia is ready to pass to the visa-free regime in short terms.

However, to Alexander Moshes, the cancellation of visas at this moment is impossible. Nevertheless, collaboration between Russia and European Union is necessary. The intermediate stage can become the sequential liberalization of visa legislation from both sides, which will help to gradually overcome the existing problems and to refuse the visa regime.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009