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On elimination of visa barriers between Russia and the EU

Statement by the Party Chairman
February 1, 2010

The Russian United Democratic Party YABLOKO considers abolishing of the visa barrier separating the European Union and Russia be the most important and a very necessary step towards RF-EU integration.
The advantages that both the sides will get in solving this problem considerably overweight the bureaucratic problems that may seem insurmountable today.

We are certain that the issue of elimination the visa barrier between Russia and Europe should be examined and solved by politicians rather than bureaucrats. A political will towards strategic decision-making will enable us to find constructive ways out in such issues as, for example, the readmission problem.

We would like to specially stress that freedom of movement within Greater Europe is not reduced for the Russian citizens to facilitation of their business, study or tourist trips (albeit this is also very important). This means their normal life within a single European civilization on the basis of shared principles. And this issue has become especially acute when a visa barrier separated us from our closest Eastern European neighbours as close interaction with them has always been and continue to be very important when we speak about European trends in Russia.

Elimination visa barriers and free communication among the citizens of the EU and the Russian Federation will enable the Russian citizens to experience the achievements of the Western democracies and see how democratic institutions should function, learn the democracy and built a true democracy in Russia.

We realise that we have problems with democracy, bureaucracy and corruption, but it is extremely important for overcoming such problems to give ordinary citizens an opportunity to learn and share European values and the way of living. Lack of free entrance creates problems only for law-abiding citizens while criminals easily escape all the barriers.

We welcome the statements by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini that “the Russian citizens have deserved the right to free movement without visas within the EU” and the position of Spain which is going to achieve introduction of two years multiple visas for the Russian citizens during its presidency in the EU.

We, Russian advocates of the European way of thinking and the European life style, have been speaking about the reality of the visa-free regime between Russia and Europe, when the absolute majority of politicians and citizens regarded this as a long-term goal or a fantasy. As early as in 1995 the Yabloko faction in the Russian parliament for the first time proposed to introduce a visa-free regime between EU and Russia. We do not see large obstacles in the way of elimination visa barriers between the EU and Russia which is a member state of the Council of Europe. At present when we have a favourable situation for adopting a principled decision, we are addressing the European Commission and the European Parliament with an urgent request not to lose time and spare no effort for elimination of visa barriers between Russia and Europe.

We are certain that in the 21st century we all should focus our attention on elimination of the survivals of the “iron curtain” and consider this our common strategic goal.



Sergei Mitrokhin
Chairman of the party

See also:

Russia-EU Relations



February 1, 2010