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EU FMs agree to suspend visa facilitation agreement with Russia

High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell. File Photo

Prague, Czech Republic | Xinhua | Foreign ministers of the European Union (EU) member states have agreed to suspend a visa facilitation agreement the bloc has with Russia, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said on Wednesday.

“We agree today with EU foreign ministers on full suspension of the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement,” Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, told a press conference after the ministers’ two-day informal meeting here.

He said that until now, the 2007 agreement that makes it easier for Russian citizens to obtain Schengen visas, was “partially suspended” for special collectives and groups of Russians — officials and entrepreneurs — but now it is “fully suspended.”

“It means that it will significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by the EU member states,” Borrell said, adding that the process to get a visa is going to be “longer and more difficult.”

As the situation in the EU countries bordering Russia is becoming “challenging,” Borrell said these member states can take national measures to restrict EU entry through their borders.

During their meeting, the ministers also discussed the EU’s relations with Africa.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky tweeted on Tuesday that the ministers discussed “common interests of cooperation with Africa,” which include technology, support to digitalization, sustainable energy production and scientific cooperation.

According to a statement published by the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU, the ministers also assessed the European perspective of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine, and how these countries can be helped on their road to the bloc.

The Czech Republic is currently holding the rotating Presidency of the Council of the EU for the second half of this year.

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