Medvedev chides EU over lack of unity on visas

2nd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday chided EU leaders over their lack of unity on lifting visas for Russians, despite Moscow's fierce push ahead of their summit for such a deal.

"The faster a consensus will be reached within the EU, the better," Medvedev told reporters at a joint press conference in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don.

He stressed Russia was ready "tomorrow" to take such steps for EU citizens, hinting that some ex-Communist EU member states were blocking a deal based on past prejudices toward their former Soviet master.

"Nothing is stopping us," Medvedev said. "The EU's position is a bit different, it is made of 27 states, each of which has their own opinion."

"In my opinion this is tied to our history more than any current realities."

Moscow had declared its summit priority setting a timeline to abolish visas -- a long desired goal but one that analysts said was unlikely to gain traction soon with the EU, which faces more pressing economic problems.

But Russian officials betrayed growing irritation over visas ahead of the summit talks, viewing the barriers as humiliating while the EU eases visas for poorer states such as Albania and Bosnia.

Russia's EU envoy complained last week that "outdated phobias" among the bloc's "new member states" were stalling visa talks, in a clear reference to ex-Communist states in Europe, many of whom have chilly relations with Moscow.

He insisted the EU's immigration problems are at its southern, not eastern borders.

© 2010 AFP

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