Moscow still hopes to switch to visa-free travel between Russia and EU by 2014

Moscow hopes that there is still a chance to switch to visa-free travel between Russia and the European Union before 2014, Russia's EU Ambassador Vladimir Chizhov told Interfax in Brussels.

"I have given this date as an indicator, a natural timeframe. I have always been opposed to setting any artificial timeframes for any negotiating processes. But I am speaking about a natural timeframe in this case," he said.

"Let's continue hoping. Hope remains, but certainly no one is offering any guarantees," the diplomat said.

The EU's first evaluation mission arrived in Russia this week, he said.

"They are visiting Moscow, Vladimir and Nizhny Novgorod, where they are assessing the functioning of the passport system, migration service, etc. The Russian Foreign Ministry's special ambassador Anvar Azimov is coordinating this work. We expect at least one more such mission in charge of another set of issues to come to Russia before the end of the year. Consequently, similar Russian missions could visit EU countries as well," Chizhov said.

"There are huge amounts of correspondence on this matter. Frankly speaking, they sometimes go beyond any sensible limits, with lists of questions and consequently answers to them containing hundreds of pages. But if our partners need such detailed information, we are ready to share it," he said.

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