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Grigory Yavlinsky discussed with representatives of the European Union the measures to introduce a visa-free regime between Russia and EU countries

Press realease
Chairman of the Russian Democratic party YABLOKO Grigory Yavlinsky, Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Russia Richard Wright and Italian Ambassador to Russia Gianfranco Facco Bonetti discussed the prospects and steps in the introduction of a visa-free regime for trips by Russian tourists to Europe and trips by EU citizens to Russia. This was the topic of the meeting at the Representation of the European Commission in Moscow on July 17, 2003. This is already the second meeting of its kind.

During the meeting Grigory Yavlinsky handed to the representatives of the European union proposals from the YABLOKO party on the measures that should be undertaken by Russia and the EU to eliminate visa barriers. The document analyses the present situation in this area: in particular, the Kaliningrad problem, influence of the EU expansion to the East on relations with the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe, the factors of economic cooperation between Russia and EU, security problems, illegal migration, terrorism and crime. YABLOKO's programme also contains proposals on the measures that should be undertaken by both the sides for the visa-free regime of border crossing by their citizens. It lists definitesteps and names the Russian ministries responsible for implementation of these measures.

"We agreed to create a working group to develop further these proposals," said Grigory Yavlinsky to journalists after the meeting.

Asked what steps should be undertaken in the first place, the leader of YABLOKO noted that "this is more the work of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia." "In particular, said Yavlinsky, the quality of the documents should be improved, the quality of Russian passports for trips abroad should also be improved to avoid forgeries."

Yavlinsky also thinks that Russia should prepare for the signing of an agreement on the readmission, reduction of the consulate procedures for issuing visas to Russia. "These are the steps that should be undertaken in the first place," said Yavlinsky.

The Russian Democratic party YABLOKO has been steadily advocated abolition of the visa regime between Russia and the EU countries. In June 2003 this idea received the support of the Group of Liberals, Democrats and Reformers of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). It is also expected that YABLOKO's deputy and member of PACE Alexander Shishlov will submit this issue to the next plenary meeting of the Assembly.

In May 2003 representatives of the European Parliament approved the initiative presented by another YABLOKO's deputy Vladimir Lukin. During the meeting of the Bureau of the Committee of Parliamentary Cooperation Russia-EU (Vladimir Lukin is Co-Chairman of the Committee in Russia), he proposed as a first step the abolition of student visas for students who go to study or work in Europe or Russia.

Over the past few months YABLOKO's activists have collected thousands of signatures in support of the introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and EU from people queuing by consulate departments in large Russian cities for their visas to Europe. About 4,000 Internet users also signed the address that was published on the party web-site.

At present the citizens of 45 countries have the right to enter the EU (in addition to the citizens of the EU member countries) without a visa. An order applicable to Russian citizens is also in force for citizens from 130 countries.

See also:

On visa regulations between Russia and EU countries. LDR Group Statement, Strasbourg, June 23, 2003.

The Liberal Group of PACE approved the idea of visa-free regime for trips of Russian citizens to EU countries. Press release, June 21, 2003.

YABLOKO collects signatures to eliminate the visa regime between Russia and the EU., June 8, 2003

Patching Things Up at Putin's Picnic. By Grigory Yavlinsky, The Moscow Times, June 6, 2003.

Russian citizens should go to Europe without visas! Statement, June 5, 2003.

Deputy Speaker of the State Duma Vladimir Lukin proposes the introduction of a visa-free regime for Russian and European students Press release, May 20, 2003.

YABLOKO: the visa barriers separating Russia and Europe must be removed as soon as possible. Press release, February 20, 2003.

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