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Russia-EU visa-free travel on the anvil
March 12, 2013, 10:52 am


Moscow has made visa-free travel with the EU a foreign policy priority [AP]

Russia and the European Union continue dialogue on initiating a visa-free regime.

“We’d prefer to see a visa-free regime introduced between Russia and EU in time for the Sochi Olympics, but it’s a far-fetched goal,” Anvar Azimov, Russia’s foreign ministry special envoy said at a ministerial briefing.

Azimov met with Stefano Manservisi, EU director general for home affairs in Moscow to discuss the issue.

After the meeting Manservisi said the issue of a visa-free regime for service passport holders may be resolved in a matter of weeks.

However, to do so Russia needs to reduce the current number of over 180,000 holders of such passports “to a meaningful number.”

Azimov says several categories will be excluded, such as 85,000 of the military serving in the CIS, embassy staff – around 22,000, and many others.

Thus the number of service passport holders eligible for visa-free travel will shrink to 15,000.

According to Azimov, Russia hopes to sign the agreement this summer at the Russia-EU summit.

He also pointed out that the facilitation agreement will include journalists and entrepreneurs – after three trips to the EU they should be able to obtain five year visas.

Moscow has made visa-free travel with the EU a foreign policy priority.

In 2010 Moscow submitted a draft on scrapping the visa regime to the EU.

Daria Chernyshova