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AP via MT: Putin Strikes Visa Deal at EU Summit

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  • mariuslab2002
    The deal has been struck, it looks like most Chechens who have found themselves illegally in the EU countries, might be send back to Russia. M.L. Wednesday,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 4, 2005
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      The deal has been struck, it looks like most Chechens who have found
      themselves illegally in the EU countries, might be send back to
      Russia. M.L.


      Wednesday, October 5, 2005. Issue 3267. Page 1.

      Putin Strikes Visa Deal at EU Summit
      By Beth Gardner
      The Associated Press


      Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

      British Prime Minister Tony Blair looking at President Vladimir Putin
      as they listen to a reporter's question during a news conference in
      London on Tuesday.

      LONDON — President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday hailed an agreement on
      visas as a step toward free travel between Russia and the European
      Union and pledged to be Europe's reliable partner as an oil supplier.

      Reporting a breakthrough on a long-standing issue, leaders at an
      EU-Russia summit in central London said Russia had agreed to readmit
      people who illegally migrated to the EU. In turn, the EU promised to
      make visa applications to 11 of the 25 EU nations easier for Russian
      diplomats, students and businesspeople, Britain's Foreign Office said.

      "We believe that these arrangements are a stage that would help us
      approach a visa-free regime," Putin said at a news conference
      following the summit with Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose country
      holds the rotating European Union presidency.

      Russia's demand that the EU ease visa restrictions had been a point of
      contention between the two sides, and the leaders said the deal marked
      an important step forward.

      The EU had insisted it would ease its slow, expensive visa application
      process for Russians only if Moscow took back illegal immigrants from
      the bloc plus those from its neighbors who reach Western Europe by
      crossing through Russia's porous borders.

      Putin agreed to do so and defended the decision to back down from his
      strongly held position.

      "We were looking for compromise," he said. Blair's office said the
      Russian concession was key to Britain and other European nations that
      have been struggling to stem illegal immigration.


      Energy was an important focus of the summit. Oil accounts for much of
      energy-hungry Europe's imports from Russia, which is eager for Western
      investment.

      At the news conference, Putin said Russian oil met a third of European
      demand. "Russia has constantly been augmenting her supply of oil,
      helping the world economy, including Europe, by constraining prices,"
      he said. "Without the contribution of Russia to the energy effort,
      prices would have been much higher."

      "Russia is a reliable partner and never … failed her partners in
      Europe," he said.

      The leaders said they had also discussed trade between Russia and the
      EU and boosting cooperation against terrorism and organized crime,
      including drug and people trafficking.

      "It was a very good, pragmatic, results-oriented summit," said
      European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

      The leaders said they focused on fleshing out the framework for
      cooperation on trade, security, external affairs and culture that they
      laid out at the last EU-Russia summit, which took place in Moscow in May.


      "We want to work to take the relationship between Europe and Russia to
      a new and more intense and strengthened level," Blair said. "This is a
      relationship in economic terms that can only grow and prosper and
      strengthen."

      Blair said the two sides had incentives to cooperate because "our
      economic future is now bound up together."

      Barroso said the leaders discussed human rights and the situation in
      Chechnya and Ingushetia.

      Amnesty International last week urged EU leaders to take a tough line
      with Putin on human rights, alleging that Russian forces in Chechnya
      were responsible for "gross human rights violations," including
      torture and forced confessions.

      Blair said they had discussed Chechnya, but gave no specifics.

      The leaders said they had also discussed Iran, the Middle East and the
      countries surrounding Russia.

      Moscow, nervous about the EU's economic and political outreach, is
      wary that Europe is gaining sway in areas Russia sees as its own
      sphere of influence, including Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Uzbekistan.

      Blair and Putin were to dine together at 10 Downing Street, the prime
      minister's official residence, and planned to meet again Wednesday for
      British-Russian talks. Putin is sure to raise Russia's objections to
      Britain's granting of asylum to Chechen rebel envoy Akhmed Zakayev,
      and tycoon Boris Berezovsky, who fled Russia to avoid an investigation.

      Putin will also present awards on Wednesday to British sailors who
      helped with the rescue in August of a Russian mini-submarine, the
      British Foreign Office said.
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