Foreign Minister Ivanov to attempt to soften Finnish opposition to visa-free regime

During the course of his visit in Finland, Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov will discuss problems of the visa regime between Russia and the EU, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs Representative Alexander Yakovenko at a press conference on June 9. He said that Russian-Finnish talks on the level of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs would be held June 10 in Helsinki.

'Finland has taken a harder line among European countries on the question of creating a visa-free regime with Russia. And this will undoubtedly be the subject of Ivanov's consultation in Helsinki,' said Yakovenko.

Director of the Department of Consulate Services of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Vladimir Kotenev said that over the course of the Russo-Finnish consultation at the end of May 2003, Finland did not express the intention to make any concessions on the question of instituting a visa-free regime. Kotenev said 'our Finnish colleagues have taken an arbitrary tract of the Schengen visa rules.' He said that Russia stated at these talks 'about the intolerable situation when many Russian citizens are deported directly from the Finnish border without giving a reason.' Kotenev said that the quantity of refusals of visas and the number of deported Russian citizens was 'absolutely disproportional to the number of refusals of visas and the number deported from the Russian side.' He also said 'Finland answered with a singular refusal' as well as to the question of cutting the costs of visas.

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