“The abolition of the visa regime is not the most fashionable activity in the EU”



Relations between Moscow and Brussels in the past 2016 is not the best way. The EU unilaterally reduced the number of official visits, imposed new sanctions against Russia, as well as continued anti-Russian rhetoric.

EU policy has led to the internal crisis of Europe itself. Countries of the EU at the end of 2016 was in a state of turbulence, there were enormous challenges that have rocked Europe. And the immigration crisis revealed serious problems in the work of EU governments.

In the past year the most important event for Europe was a referendum on the British exit from the EU. For Brexit voted more than 51% of the population that actually shocked the European bureaucracy and sociologists who predicted quite different results. In addition, the EU has occurred and a number of other important events. A referendum in Italy to change the constitutional order initiated by the government, also failed. This demonstrates the low level of public confidence in the Italian authorities.

In the Netherlands failed referendum on Association between EU and Ukraine. In France held the GOP primaries, where he won the françois Fillon supporter of normalizing relations with Russia. The ex-President of the Fifth Republic, Nicolas Sarkozy, was defeated. And the rating of the ruling party of socialists is at a record low level. All this is an indicator of confidence of French citizens to the authorities.

In an interview with the special correspondent of “Izvestia” Georgi Asatryan Russia’s permanent representative to the European Union, extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov summarized the results of cooperation between Russia and the EU in 2016 and also spoke about the prospects of relations in 2017.

— What events in the past year can be called a key for relations of Moscow and Brussels?

— Recent events — an attempt to combine, in folklore analogies, wolf, goat and cabbage into tripartite negotiations EU–Russia–Ukraine gas 9 Dec. These negotiations were initiated by our partners from the European Commission. Their concern is understandable, and in many ways we share. It is associated with the threat of disruptions in the transit of Russian gas through Ukraine due to underutilization of underground gas storages in Ukraine and a number of other brought about by the Kiev factors. Among them have received bad downloads the decision of Economic court of Kiev, approved the decision of the Ukrainian Antimonopoly service about absolutely contrary to all logic, the imposition of fines on Gazprom. It is fraught with outright confiscation of transit gas.

— Where is Europe and what to expect Moscow?

Since I because of the nature of the profession and a staunch optimist, still hoping that in the coming year the EU will find enough political will to get out of the impasse into which it has driven itself on the Russian track. I’m not talking about those internal challenges it faces — migration, Brexit… If we talk about our relationship, I have in the past year, has repeatedly said that the EU is in the process of accumulation of a certain critical mass in favor of the revision confrontational line. Today such a critical mass yet. View. As soon as it is accumulated, and then begin the process to break the deadlock. How this can be facilitated by a change of government in the United States, too. I do not exclude it.

— Can improve relations between Russia and the EU upcoming elections in France and Germany?

— Already say in advance that Russia would interfere in their conduct, as it allegedly intervened in the American elections. But we’ll see. At the very least, a potential candidate to win this election, declare a more reasonable point of view against Russia than what we hear from some members of existing political elites.

I’m not saying that the mood of populism, which are widely distributed in Europe, is a resource of Pro-Russian forces. I’m not talking about that, I mean that there are serious politicians who have a different opinion on relations with Russia. Not going to name names and specific countries, not to offend anyone, and then suddenly someone will forget…

— Visa regime between Russia and EU countries will be simplified?

— I hope that will be simplified, and this process goes. Recently held a regular meeting of the joint Committee in Moscow, it’s been quite constructive. We are talking about small steps, for example extend the practice of issuing multiple-entry visas. If we talk about strategic goals — the abolition of the visa regime, then I am more skeptical. The abolition of the visa regime in principle, it is not the fashionable pastime in the EU. Even his beloved Ukraine, they and then to spring this case has decided to postpone, and with it Georgia. It’s in the first place.

Secondly, according to my observations, among the Russian citizens, the degree of enthusiasm a visa-free regime with EU countries declined slightly. I could be wrong, looking at it from Brussels, but it seems that it is.

Thirdly, visa-free regime with those countries with which the EU already have gradually eroded. In the coming months the implementation of the system ETIAS, which largely copied the American practice: in order to enter the United States, a citizen of a country with visa-free regime with the United States, it is still necessary to advance in an electronic form to submit their passport details on pay check. And U.S. authorities reserve the right to refuse entry.

This will complicate the process of crossing the border?

— Of course. This creates a filter. This is not a visa, but not completely visa-free regime. It will spread to countries with which the EU has a visa-free regime. Even if now with Ukraine, it will announce them anyway in this system will drive. As well as it will drive the British people. Even before a Brexit will become a reality, as UK is not in Schengen country also offered to join the system.

— The horrific terrorist attacks in the EU (nice, Berlin, etc.) have an impact on Brussels ‘ policies towards Syria and the so-called moderate Syrian opposition?

— They had an impact on Brussels ‘ policies against international terrorism, of course. Also they had an impact on the overall situation, which became more panicked. You mentioned nice and Berlin. In Brussels in March has also been a serious terrorist acts, including at the airport.

As for Syria, I would say that the policy of the European Union is mainly limited to verbal expression. The EU participates in the International group of support for Syria and making a lot of statements. But when it comes to practical action the EU immediately begins to mention that he is not a military Alliance and military operations not involved (which is true), but, they say, is the largest donor. MS Mogherini immediately agreed to what is called the European Union is the only provider of humanitarian assistance in Syria that, to put it politically correct, does not fully reflect the objective reality.

We are on the subject with them regularly to talk, explain our approach and offer to negotiate about cooperation in the delivery of humanitarian assistance. But they can’t transcend themselves in determining their attitude to the Syrian government “Assad regime”, as they call it.

As for the “moderate Syrian opposition”, the term itself is rather arbitrary, as well as the position of the EU in this regard. Yes, they have contacts with the opposition, the only practical effect they have not yet had, in contrast to the work with the Syrian opposition have led Russia on a bilateral level, and with the participation of Turkey. Its practical result is obvious in Aleppo: problem with output remaining militants solved.

— You were a contemporary of the killed Hero of Russia Andrei Karlov. Can you tell us about him?

— We studied at different faculties, but in the same year. I studied at the faculty of MO, and he is on the faculty of international economic relations. Therefore, we at the Institute have crossed every day. Then we came to work in the Ministry of foreign Affairs. Then periodically our paths have crossed. Most closely we interacted in the period, when Andrew headed the consular Department. We talked about visas, the prospects of visa-free regime. Andrew was most directly involved in the negotiations with the European Union. Then he proved himself as a deep specialist, expert in his field, as well as very most likeable.

If you look at his track record, that state, where he worked, is not the easiest to work point. North Korea, Turkey. His work in Turkey is not very long — three and a half years. But this time, dropped steep turns in our relationship. It put our Ambassador in Ankara in a very difficult situation demanded a high level of professionalism. Andrew brilliantly coped with this. We all will miss him. He was one of the best not only in our age category, but in General in the Russian diplomatic service. We’ll remember him always.