Lavrov: Russia, EU need just 18 months to switch to visa-free travel

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July 25, 2012, 12:36 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Interfax-Ukraine

Russia and the EU have yet to agree on a timetable for introducing visa-free travel, said Lavrov.
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Russia and the European Union will need no more than 18 months to switch to visa-free travel, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"We hope that this is a task that should not take more than, say, a year and a half," Lavrov told reporters after talks with Cyprus Foreign Minister Erato Kozakou-Markoullis in Moscow on Wednesday.

Cyprus is currently presiding in the EU. "Swift abolition of the visa regime remains our priority," Lavrov said.

Russia and the EU have yet to agree on a timetable for introducing visa-free travel, he said. In the meantime, Moscow suggests additional measures in 2012 to liberalize the visa regime by broadening categories of citizens, who enjoy simpler visa requirements, and by extending a visa validity period, the minister said.

"We reaffirmed our readiness for productive joint work of carrying out joint steps that need to be made to achieve a visa-free regime for short-term trips between Russian and EU citizens," Lavrov said.

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