Russia’s Rights Record Delays Visa-Free Travel
Published: January 22, 2014 (Issue # 1794)
An official from the European Union spoke out about several concerns over Russia during a visit to Moscow on Jan. 17, warning that plans for a visa-free regime would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed.
The meeting came shortly after the EU decided to cut short a planned meeting with Russian leaders in Brussels later this month, a move which observers have attributed to an ongoing spat over Ukraine.
Visa-Free Visits Floated For Airline Transit Passengers
Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said the meeting on Jan. 17 of the Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council was more about preserving ties than anything else.
“We are trying not to turn our relations completely sour and maintain a certain level of dialogue,” Konovalov said after meeting with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, adding that the EU was not willing to take further steps in the dialogue for a visa-free regime with Russia.
Konovalov added that Russia was not going to pressure the EU over the visa deal. “We have a feeling that our colleagues in the EU are not committed and do not feel a need to eliminate the barriers between Russia and the EU,” he said.
Visa Rules Eased for Foreign Investors
Negotiations about the visa-free regime have been ongoing for more than ten years, and Russia has accused the EU of deliberately delaying the process on several occasions. In December, Russia said it had prepared a visa agreement and that it hoped the EU would sign it at the next Russia-EU summit, which has now been shortened from two days to a few hours on Jan. 28.
At the request of the EU, the summit, which is usually held over two days with numerous meetings, will consist solely of a working dinner in Brussels on Jan. 28 between President Vladimir Putin, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Relations between Russia and the EU hit a rough patch after Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych backed out of an association agreement with the EU in favor of closer ties with Moscow.
Pages: