Sunday

17th Dec 2017

Russia optimistic on EU visa-free travel

  • Mr Lavrov was in Warsaw as part of a broader Poland-Russia rapprochement programme, which is to also see Russian President Dmitry Medvedev travel to the Polish capital in the near future (Photo: consiilium.europa.eu)

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov has said that Poland supports Russia's bid for visa-free travel with the EU. But the Polish position is more complicated than he suggests.

Speaking to the press after a special meeting with Polish ambassadors and his Polish counterpart, Radek Sikorski, in Warsaw on Thursday (2 September), Mr Lavrov said Poland backs Russia's draft proposal on dropping EU visa requirements: "We hope for a quick and positive response from Brussels. The Polish side has confirmed that it will support this draft."

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

His remarks were circulated by Russia's top news agencies, such as Ria Novosti, Russia Today and Itar-Tass, under bold headlines such as "Poland vows to back Russia-EU visa free travel."

For his part, Mr Sikorski did not correct Mr Lavrov at the press event. But his own statement on the subject was much more cautious.

Referring to a separate plan to simplify visa rules but only for people living in Russia's EU exclave of Kaliningrad, the Polish diplomat said: "It would be an argument for the more conservative structures in the countries of the European Union, which are mostly the interior ministers, that if our neighbours have respected current simplifications, they would also respect further liberalistion."

"Political will is one thing and fulfilling technical conditions is another thing," he added.

Warsaw is happy to move ahead on visa-free travel with Russia but only if the EU at the same time promises to in future lift visas for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine as well.

Poland set out its conditions in the run-up to the EU-Russia summit in May amid concerns that a Russia-only move would send the wrong diplomatic signals to the EU's other post-Soviet neighbours. A source close to Mr Sikorski told EUobserver after the Lavrov meeting that nothing has changed.

The situation with other EU countries makes it even less likely that Brussels will give Mr Lavrov a "quick and positive response" in the coming months.

Former Communist EU countries share Poland's views about promising to lift visas for the whole eastern flank at the same time. But many 'old' EU members are hostile due to domestic debates about immigration and security concerns. Southern EU countries also oppose it because it could harm relations by excluding the EU's southern neighbours.

Meanwhile, the EU institutions are not keen on making visa promises to Russia due to its sometimes shoddy treatment of visiting EU nationals and its general lack of respect for rule of law. Brussels is also concerned that if it gives way on visas now, it will lose a bargaining chip in negotiations on energy security in a new EU-Russia strategic partnership treaty.

"Sikorski knows very well he can make promises on this to Russia if he wants to, because there is plenty of resistance to it in the EU," a contact in the institutions said.

Two EU states break ranks on Jerusalem

Hungary and the Czech Republic have broken EU ranks on US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital despite warnings it could bring back 'darker times'.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states