A dialogue on visa-free travel between Russia and the European Union will remain frozen until all the EU’s sanctions are lifted, a diplomatic source in Brussels told TASS.
While commenting on the Russian Foreign Policy Concept, according to which Moscow intends to develop friendly interaction with the EU, and will push for phasing out visas, the source said that “the EU will continue to work with Russia, which is our largest neighbor, and develop relations including contacts between people. However, the dialogue on visa-free travel as well as talks on the new partnership and cooperation agreements have been suspended based on the decisions of the EU summit held on March 6, 2014, over Russia’s actions in Crimea,” the source stressed. “So, it is only logical that to restore the visa dialogue it is necessary that a decision on lifting all sanctions is made which will only be possible after the Minsk agreements have been implemented.”
The EU diplomat declined to assess the possibility of introducing visa-free travel in the near term. “Under the current circumstances, this matter is pointless,” he stated.
Brussels suspended the talks on visa-free travel and the new bilateral agreement as well as regular Russia-EU summits even before Crimea’s reunification with Russia. On March 17, 2014, the EU churned out a blacklist of Russian citizens and companies banned from travelling to the Union member countries and getting access to their bank system. After that, the EU imposed economic restrictions starting from August 1, 2014. In response to that, Russia introduced counter sanctions concerning agricultural sector.
Meanwhile, talks between Russia and the European Union on visa-free travel and a new cooperation agreement had actually been frozen for two years before the EU slapped sanctions on Russia in March 2014, since Brussels had been silently blocking the negotiating process.