A Visa-Free Regime as the First Step to Union With Europe

07.06.2011

The principal obstacle to a non-visa regime is that in Europe trust in Russia is at a low level, and what worries European nations is that criminals will come from Russia, or drug traders, or even terrorists. And therefore British and European governments want the opportunity to investigate each traveller before they come, hence the need for a visa regime.

I think the principal obstacle to a non-visa regime is that in Europe trust in Russia is at a low level, and what worries European nations is that criminals will come from Russia, or drug traders, or even terrorists. And therefore British and European governments want the opportunity to investigate each traveller before they come, hence the need for a visa regime.

Of course, I would enormously welcome a non-visa regime, because each time when I come to Russia, obtaining a visa is quite a long and expensive bureaucratic hassle. I’m not sure whether the attitude of the European Union is changing, because most European countries believe that Russia is still a lawless country, that the courts here function badly, therefore criminal activities go unpunished, especially if they are supported by people who are high up in the government. And therefore this distrust obstructs the creation of a non-visa regime. That is the principal problem, I think.

At the moment, the history – and the reality – of the European Union is very complicated, and the European Union itself is in danger because of the difficulties with the euro as a currency, the indebtedness of Greece, Ireland, Portugal, possibly Spain. Europe’s agenda is already full with these discussions. I don’t sense any readiness in Europe to create some kind of union with Russia, even union by association, and certainly not full membership. So, I would love to see it happen; I think it would be a good thing; I think we would both gain from it actually, both the European Union and Russia – in dealing with the problems of the modern world, but I can’t imagine it happening within the next few years – unless the European Union sorts out its own internal problems, and unless the Russian political system changes very considerably.

Views expressed are of individual Members and Contributors, rather than the Club's, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

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