March 18, 2013 10:48
Visa-free travel with EU, relaxed visa procedures are subjects of two dialogues - Chizhov
BRUSSELS. March 18 (Interfax) - The two negotiating processes on visas underway between Russia and the European Union - on the adaptation of the current accord on a relaxed visa regime and on visa-free travel - should not be mixed, Russia's European Union Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told Interfax in Brussels.
"Our opinion is that these are two parallel processes which differ from each other. Naturally, they are proceeding in the same direction, but they are parallel and, strictly speaking, not connected," he said.
"They are even conducted by different people on the Russian side. The visa-free dialogue is run by special envoy Anvar Azimov, and the dialogue on relaxed visa procedures by the Foreign Ministry's Consular Department," he said.
"Progress in visa regime relaxation could be seen already some time ago," he said, adding that "this prospect has won the required qualified majority's support in the Committee of Permanent Representatives in the EU, with a confident margin."
"Our regular explanatory work, perhaps dull at first sight, with analytical and statistical data cited, and European Union's experience studied, has led to a situation where the countries that had doubts have realized that this step would be quite logical and that it would reflect the interests of all parties, and that Russia's arguments are quite justified. But, again, this is not the end of the way," Chizhov said.
"Concerning the dialogue on visa-free travel as such, one more exchange of missions of experts is expected to occur. Last year's experience was positive and important on the whole. But progress could be more dynamic, although we are moving step-by-step towards the goal. When all of these joint steps towards visa-free travel have been made, the time will come for a political decision. As to Russia, I have no fears about its political decision. But it will be a moment of truth regarding the European Union," the Russian diplomat said.
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