Visa-free regime on agenda of Russia-EU ties
Russia will be doing everything to speed up the process of transferring to visa-free travel between Russia and the European Union, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday after talks with his Irish counterpart Eamon Gilmore, Itar-Tass reported.
"Transferring to visa-free travel is on the agenda of relations between Russia and the European Commission," the foreign minister said. "We have coordinated the list of mutual steps that we and European partners must do in order to create all necessary conditions for transferring to a visa-free regime," Lavrov added.
"I hope this list will be approved next month at the Russia-EU summit that will be held in Brussels," he added.
"Agreements that will be reached on visa-free travel must be then considered by national governments, national parliaments," he continued. "Unfortunately, the process is bulky, but such are the rules in the European Union and we will be doing all to speed up that work," he stressed.
"Work has continued already for a long time. The aim of visa-free travel was pronounced in 2003, and the then leadership of the European Union expected to reach that goal together with us maximally in five years, and already more than eight years have passed," Lavrov noted. "It's time for all of us to speed up," he stressed.
Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore, for his part, pledged that Ireland would work constructively with EU partners in order to reach an agreement on the visa issue.
The first step that Ireland has made towards visa-free space in Europe, is giving Russian nationals a possibility to enter Ireland with the British visa, the foreign minister said.
He said this system had been established for Russian nationals within the process of preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games. The top Irish diplomat expressed hope that this work would go outside directly the framework of the Olympic Games.