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EU visa-free regime for Russians depends on Moscow's diligence with border reforms

Renatas Norkus
Redo Vilimo/BFL nuotr. / Renatas Norkus
Šaltinis: BNS

Lithuania's new Ambassador to Moscow Renatas Norkus says that the speed of implementation of the visa-free regime between the European Union (EU) and Russia will depend on the pace of the country's reforms in border protection, migration control and free movement.

"However, the pace of the process will depend primarily on how promptly and effectively the Russian side carries out concrete measures implied by the Joint Steps, including those related to border security, management of migration flows, guarantees of public order and also Russia's compliance with international legal standards of the freedom of travel," the ambassador said in an interview to Interfax news agency.

In his words, the instruments are a pre-condition for introducing a visa-free regime between Russia and the European Union.

"Lithuania, like the rest of the European Union, is ready to start moving to the introduction of visa-free travels between the EU and Russia. Joint steps were adopted at the end of 2011," the new Lithuanian ambassador said.

He noted that tourist flows between Lithuania and Russia had been growing very dynamically in the past few years.

"Two years ago, there was only one Russian airline making regular flights to Lithuania. This year, the number will grow to five. In 2011, 43 percent more Russian tourists visited Lithuania than during the previous year," he said.

Norkus took the ambassadorial position in Moscow in the end of February, he is the sixth Lithuanian ambassador accredited to Russia.

Prior to his appointment to Moscow, Norkus served as Lithuania's permanent envoy at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

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