The one thing holding back Russian tourism more than anything else has been the visa issue; Russian visas are notoriously difficult to get, and the bureaucrats in charge simply won’t bend until they get what they want in return.
Rather than give into the EU’s demands for short-term visa free travel, Russia are demanding something else entirely, and it’s something that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is pushing hard for – the abolition of visas and the introduction of visa-free travel throughout the European Union.
Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Medvedev was quite clear about what he wants, saying, “What is happening in the Middle East and in African right now has caught many countries by surprise.”
“These events have resulted is a huge flow of migrants to Europe and its leading nations have responded to this as they deemed necessary. However, this doesn’t mean a complete change of policy. Despite the fact they have introduced several restrictive measures to combat the number of migrants, they are not planning to abolish the Schengen visa system.”
Russia still intends to pursue its own goals, says Medvedev, and he seems to be very confident of getting them.
“So long as we work actively with our European partners towards establishing a single economic space in Europe, then a visa-free space would become quite logical in the long run. This is a fundamental part of developing our economic ties successfully and so it is something I will continue to push for.”
However, despite the Russian leader’s optimism, as we reported last November there is still a long way to go before Medvedev’s dream becomes a reality.
The EU is extremely unreceptive to the idea of visa-free travel for Russians, mainly because it is paranoid about large numbers of Russian immigrants uprooting themselves and moving westwards.
But this stance is surely only delaying the inevitable. With Medvedev’s determination, plus the very real factor that Europe is becoming ever-more dependent on Russia’s vast resources, it would seem only a matter of time before visas for Russians are consigned to the dustbin forever.