Facilitating the visa regime: a practical step towards the Russian people
At the meeting between Russian and European civil society representatives, Henri Malosse, EESC President, proposed that the EU make this symbolic move to re-establish dialogue and relations, especially for young people coming to Europe to study.
"Regardless of the sanctions and recent political stances taken by the EU and Russia, I am calling for the EU to act positively and open its door to Russian citizens wishing to come to EU Member States" announced Henri Malosse.
The EESC president, himself recently put on a travel blacklist by the Russian authorities, deplored the deadlock in relations between the EU and Russia and pointed out this state of affairs only contributed to the Russian authorities' tougher line towards representatives of the opposition and of civil society. The introduction of a blacklist of leading European figures (89 names) has recently prevented the visit of a French parliamentary delegation to Russia, for example.
This second meeting between the EU-Russia civil society Forum and the EESC allowed participants to take stock of the worsening situation regarding the rule of law, fundamental rights and civil society activities in Russia. In its conclusions, the forum called on to the EU to remain alert to human rights situation and to the restrictive measures imposed on NGOs and media.
The forum also urged the Russian authorities to repeal the "foreign agents law" and abolish the "foreign agents" register, as well as the law on "undesirable" organisations. The lack of sufficient financial support from the EU, commensurate with the challenges, was also underlined.
Practical measures discussed included easier access to asylum for Russian activists and the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery convention to fight corruption abroad.
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