Policy Memos

Europe Without Visas: Does Russia Have a Chance

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When Vladimir Putin proposed visa-free travel between Russia and the European Union in August 2002, his initiative seemed to be sailing against the current wave of thinking. The forthcoming EU enlargement not only left a number of aspirant countries with no choice other than to introduce visa regimes vis-à-vis Russia but also confronted one million of Russia’s citizens, residing in the Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, with the requirement of obtaining a visa to travel to their own country by land. 
15 months later, however, the situation can be assessed with more optimism. During a summit in Saint Petersburg in May 2003, Moscow and Brussels officially agreed to study the possibility of visa-free travel in the long term, and this was accompanied by several 
bilateral negotiations on liberalization in issuing visas. Although it is probably futile to determine indicative deadlines at this stage, the argument can be made that if Russia takes the issue seriously, it can succeed. [...]


About the author

Director,The EU Eastern Neighbourhood and Russia Programme
Finnish Institute of International Affairs