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YABLOKO urges European liberals to work out a new EU strategy for Russia

ELDR Press Release
February 17, 2010

At a meeting of the European Liberal Democrats parliamentary group in Brussels on 3rd February, Sergey Mitrokhin, Leader of ELDR member party, YABLOKO, called for a strong collaboration amongst liberals in view of the introduction of a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union.

Mitrokhin called on the European Union to work out a strategy for interaction with Russia based on integration rather than confrontation. Such integration is needed both for the EU and Russia in the field of the economy (which should not be reduced to oil and gas issues only), politics and national security (e.g., creation of a joint ABM), as well as a broad spectrum of other aspects, such as integration of Russias rich intellectual and labour potential into the European economy. The European Union should initiate projects that would engage Russian society and elite into the European values and approaches. According to Mitrokhin, such a strategy can ensure Russias steady movement towards the European way of development. Elimination of visa barriers and free communication between the citizens of the EU and Russia will enable Russian citizens to experience the achievements of Western democracies and observe how democratic institutions should really function and apply this in their own country.

YABLOKOs leader noted that it would be easier to overcome Russias present problems with democracy, bureaucracy and corruption, if ordinary Russian citizens have an opportunity to learn and share the European values and the way of living. Mitrokhin recollected that the idea of abolishing visas between Russia and the EU was proposed as early as in 1995 by the YABLOKO faction in the Russian parliament. We specially invited then Foreign Minister of the Russia, Igor Ivanov, and persuaded him that this initiative was not a fantasy, Mitrokhin said. He also noted that in 2003 Ivanov shared these ideas with his Italian counterpart. 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 the Spanish Presidency, which is going to result in the introduction of two year multiple visas for Russian citizens, he commented.

MEPs broadly supported the proposals for the earliest introduction of a visa-free regime. However, there were also some doubts expressed about such a policy, especially relating to the security of Russias Southern borders. Answering these arguments Mitrokhin noted that Latin American states have no less problems than Russia, nonetheless, the EU has established a visa-free regime with a number of countries of this region. Moreover the Agreement on re-admission concluded between Russia and the EU and ratified by the Russian parliament in 2007 eliminates legal obstacles for introduction of a visa-free regime which, however, does not mean abolishing of passport controls at the borders.

YABLOKO hopes that the ALDE faction, as a king-maker in the European Parliament, supports this initiative by Russian liberals.

 

See also:

the original

Russia-EU Relations

 

ELDR Press Release

February 17, 2010