Non-visa regime will be in the focus at the Rome summit

The transition toward a non-visa regime between Russia and the EU will be one of the central issues of discussion during November summit in Rome, announced Deputy Foreign Minister Vladimir Chizhov during a press conference in RIA Novosti.

He said that the transition to a non-visa regime was considered a long-term perspective by the participants to the Russia-EU summit in St. Petersburg in May, 2003. "We realize that such issues cannot be solved overnight. That is why Russia has been calling for immediate initiation of the negotiation process," Mr. Chizhov said. "And finally the discussion of the issue has started," he underlined.

Mr. Chizhov stated that the first meeting in the context of the non-visa dialogue was held in Brussels last week. Russian delegation at the meeting was headed by head of the department of consular cooperation under the RF Foreign Ministry Vladimir Kotenev. "The work will continue because we still have a lot of unsolved problems," said Mr. Chizhov.

According to the RF deputy foreign minister, the sides need to work out a cross-border travel regime acceptable for all parties involved. "We are talking about the regime, which refers to 43 countries on the so-called "A-list," Mr. Chizhov clarified. Citizens of these countries will be allowed to enter the EU countries without visas and stay on their territory without permission to work for up to three months.

"Certainly, all agreements in this area will have reciprocal character," stressed Mr. Chizhov.

RF deputy foreign minister underlined that Russia stood for gradual transition toward a non-visa regime. "Even a rather stringent Shengen system has some loopholes that we are going to use, certainly, with the European Union's consent," Mr. Chizhov said. In his opinion, it refers to easing regulatory procedures of visa issuance, increasing the number of multiple-entry visas, simplifying the issuance of visas to participants in cultural and scientific exchange, athletes, people visiting relatives and residents of border regions.

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