The migration issue that we are discussing is closely connected
with such fundamental liberal value as freedom of movement.
In my view restraining of this freedom considerably complicates
the spread of liberal ideas. And this is very important for
We, in the Russian YABLOKO party, think that deepening of
cooperation between Russia and Europe and gradual integration
of Russia into the European Union is a must in the way of
Russia’s democratic development. Both the European countries
(that will get a reliable and predictable partner sharing
European values) and Russia will profit from this. However,
to move along this road we need mutual trust which is based
on communication between people. Provision of the freedom
of movement, abolishing of visa barriers between the European
Union and Russia is a very important step here.
In my view, elimination of visa barriers between Russia and
Europe should be examined and solved by politicians rather
than bureaucrats. All we need is political will towards such
strategic decision-making. Long-term advantages here both
for Russia and Europe considerably overweight bureaucratic
problems. And it will also allow us to solve such issues as,
for example, work permits and registration for foreign citizens
working in Russia, which should be part of the general agreement
on elimination of visa barriers.
For the Russian citizens the freedom of movement within Europe
is not reduced only to facilitation of their business, study
or tourist trips (though this is also very important). This
means their normal life within a single European civilization
on the basis of mutually shared principles and values. This
issue has become especially acute when visa barriers separated
us from our close Eastern European neighbours. However, close
interaction with them has always been very important when
we speak about European trends in Russia.
Elimination of visa barriers and provision of free communication
among our citizens will enable the Russian citizens to experience
the achievements of Western democracies and see how democratic
institutions help to improve the quality of life.
We realise that Russia has problems with democracy, bureaucracy
and corruption. However, to overcome them it is extremely
important to give ordinary citizens an opportunity to learn
and share European values and the way of living without having
to face bureaucratic problems. Also entrance visas to EU create
problems only for law-abiding citizens – Russians and Europeans
visiting Russia - while criminals easily escape all the barriers.
We welcome the statements by Italian Foreign Minister Franco
Frattini and Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb in favour
of the visa-free regime. Also we welcome the position of Spain
which is going to introduce two-year multiple visas for the
Russian citizens during its presidency in the EU. However,
despite such political support of the visa-free regime, bureaucracy
has been making new barriers. In particular, France has considerably
complicated the procedure of issuing visas to the Russian
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. Elimination of visa barriers between
Russia and EU is envisaged by several agreements: St.Petersburg
summit of 2003 and the Road Map adopted in 2005 also set the
goal of elimination of visas with Russia. An agreement on
facilitation of issuing of visas for the Russian citizens
and Europeans came into force in 2007.
We, Russian liberals, advocate the European way of thinking
and the European life style. We 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. YABLOKO has been working
on this since 1995. Today all this may turn into reality.
Moreover, that many Latin American countries (such as Venezuela,
Nicaragua, Paraguay, Argentina, Mexico, Panama) that have
sometimes even more problems than Russia enjoy a visa-free
regime with Europe.
We are addressing our European liberal colleagues with a 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.
European liberals to
discuss a visa-free regime between Russia and the EU. Press
Release, March 11, 2010
of Visa Barriers Between Russia and EU. Statement of YABLOKO's
Chairman. February 1, 2010
welcome Russia to the European Union. Press Release. February