Russia says wants EU visa deal
ATHENS - Agence France-PresseRussia looks forward to restarting cooperation and visa talks with the EU under Greece's upcoming presidency of the bloc, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said here on Wednesday.
Greece has signalled it intends to promote EU relations with Moscow when it assumes the bloc's rotating presidency in January, and to further facilitate visa procedures for Russian travellers which are becoming increasingly important to its tourism industry.
"We particularly appreciate the determination by our Greek friends to promote Russia-EU relations in the coming period," Lavrov said.
"Primarily the problem is about the issuing of entry visas," he added. "And the renewal of negotiations, which stopped through no responsibility of our own, for a new deal on Russia-EU cooperation ... to modernise relations between EU and Russia." Efforts to improve EU-Russian relations have so far run afoul of disputes over Moscow's record on human rights and energy policy.
The European Union has indicated it is preparing to charge Russian energy giant Gazprom in an anti-trust probe on concerns that it was hindering competition in central and eastern Europe.
Moscow has also sparked an international outcry over its heavy-handed response after two Greenpeace activists in September scaled a state-owned oil platform to protest against Russian energy exploration in the Arctic.