Russia ready for visa-free regime with EU - foreign minister
Russia is ready to introduce a bilateral visa-free regime with the EU at any time, the Russian foreign minister said on Wednesday.
"We are ready to introduce a visa-free regime today if you like," Sergei Lavrov said at a session of the European Business Association in Moscow, reported RIA Novosti.
The minister said that a visa-free regime would be more favorable for the development of all-embracing cooperation and economic ties instead of allowing dual citizenship in Russia.
"I do not think that the idea of dual citizenship would be proof of Russia's genuine devotion to developing cooperation," Lavrov said.
Speaking about the current state of relations Lavrov said that the EU is Russia's closest neighbor and the most important economic and political partner.
"On the whole we are satisfied with the current state of relations between Russia and the European Union," he said.
The foreign minister also said that a new Russia-EU partnership agreement, which is still under discussion after a series of delays including after Russia's August conflict with Georgia over South Ossetia, is very important but additional agreements are needed to embrace all sectors of cooperation.
"Obviously the new agreement, which will be a framework agreement, is not intended for the resolution of crucially important issues for business society, for instance liberalization of trade regime, investments, travel of citizens. It is simply unreal," Lavrov said.
The new EU-Russia agreement is set to replace the 1997 Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which was extended for a year when it expired in December 2007.