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  Tuesday, August 4, 2020
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Agreements between Russia and the European Union on easing visa regulations and on readmission of illegal immigrants could come into force before the end of 2006
Agreements between Russia and the European Union on easing visa regulations and on readmission of illegal immigrants, expected to be signed at a summit May 25, could come into force before the end of 2006, a Russian deputy foreign minister said Thursday. "Preparations for signing the agreements on readmission and on easing visa rules are in full swing," Alexander Grushko said, adding that the EU still had to complete the necessary procedures. According to the agreements, Russia and the EU would relax visa requirements for certain categories of people for stays of up to 90 days, and take additional measures to prevent illegal migration. Russia would pledge to readmit Russian citizens and citizens of third countries who entered the EU illegally via Russia. Moscow had previously refused to readmit foreign citizens, because of the risk of their staying in the country. "There are no reasons to fear that the readmission agreement with the EU will turn our country into a gathering point for migrants," Grushko said. Within the first three years, Russia would only have to readmit Russian citizens and citizens of the countries with which it has similar readmission accords, the deputy minister said. Grushko said the three-year transition period would be enough for Russia to step up border control, and to drastically reduce the number of illegal migrants entering Russia, including those heading for the EU. He added that the EU was also negotiating readmission agreements with countries that are sources of immigration via Russia. The agreement, however, would represent a concession on the part of Russia, as under the Schengen rules on visas that apply to many EU countries, readmission is mandatory if the visa regime is abolished. Grushko said he hoped that nothing would prevent the parties from signing the agreements, which are consistent with Russia and the EU's plans to create four common spaces in the spheres of: economy; freedom, security and justice; external security; and science and culture, agreed on in St. Petersburg in 2003. The summit of the EU and Russia, which is taking over the rotating chairmanship in the Council of Europe from Romania, will take place in Russia's Black Sea resort of Sochi.
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