Getting a tourist visa to visit Russia isn’t very straight-forward. Before you apply you need to obtain an invitation from inside Russia and then you need to prove that you are covered by health insurance. But European Union citizens will have an easier go of it if Russia has its way. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev and prime minister Vladimir Putin are calling for an end to visa requirements between Russia and the EU.
Plans for a visa-free travel agreement began in 2003 at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum and further commitment between the two entities was made in November 2009 as part of a Partnership for Modernization plan. In June of this year, at the Russia-EU summit in Rostov-on-Don, President Medvedev urged Brussels to work closely with Moscow in making the plans a reality. While many EU countries are ready for the move, it will be difficult to obtain approval from all participating countries, which will be required if the plan is to move forward.
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is supportive of the proposal, but says that there is hesitation among EU members, primarily from Eastern European countries, stating that it’s “probably connected to these countries history during the era of the Soviet Union.” Among other supporters is Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker, saying, “it is necessary to find a solution to the visa issue as soon as possible. We’ve dragged this out for too long.”
At least one reason Russia is pushing for this is the prospect of luring skilled workers to its forthcoming high-tech business park in Skolkovo near Moscow.
[Image: Dmitry Valberg / Flickr]