Yekaterina Kravtsova, Moscow Times, 19 January 2014 | Issue 5291
An official from the European Union spoke out about several concerns over Russia during a visit to Moscow on Friday, warning that plans for a visa-free regime would be put on hold until issues of corruption and human rights are addressed.
The meeting came shortly after the EU decided to cut short a planned meeting with Russian leaders in Brussels later this month, a move which observers have attributed to an ongoing spat over Ukraine.
Justice Minister Alexander Konovalov said Friday's meeting of the Russia-EU Permanent Partnership Council was more about preserving ties than anything else.
"We are trying not to turn our relations completely sour and maintain a certain level of dialogue," Konovalov said after meeting with EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia MalmstrЪm, adding that the EU was not willing to take further steps in the dialogue for a visa-free regime with Russia.
Konovalov added that Russia was not going to pressure the EU over the visa deal. "We have a feeling that our colleagues in the EU are not committed and do not feel a need to eliminate the barriers between Russia and the EU," he said.
Negotiations about the visa-free regime have been ongoing for more than 10 years, and Russia has accused the EU of deliberately delaying the process on several occasions. In December, Russia said it had prepared a visa agreement and that it hoped the EU would sign it at the next Russia-EU summit, which has now been shortened from two days to a few hours on Jan. 28.
Read more: http://www.themoscowtimes.com/...
The Moscow Times
Visa-Free Regime Requires 'Safe Environment'