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“We’d prefer to see a visa-free regime introduced between Russia and EU in time for the Sochi Olympics, but it’s a far-fetched goal,” Anvar Azimov, Russia’s foreign ministry special envoy said at a ministerial briefing.
Azimov met with Stefano Manservisi, EU director general for home affairs in Moscow to discuss the issue.
After the meeting Manservisi said the issue of a visa-free regime for service passport holders may be resolved in a matter of weeks.
However, to do so Russia needs to reduce the current number of over 180,000 holders of such passports “to a meaningful number.”
Azimov says several categories will be excluded, such as 85,000 of the military serving in the CIS, embassy staff – around 22,000, and many others.
Thus the number of service passport holders eligible for visa-free travel will shrink to 15,000.
According to Azimov, Russia hopes to sign the agreement this summer at the Russia-EU summit.
He also pointed out that the facilitation agreement will include journalists and entrepreneurs – after three trips to the EU they should be able to obtain five year visas.
Moscow has made visa-free travel with the EU a foreign policy priority.
In 2010 Moscow submitted a draft on scrapping the visa regime to the EU.