Historic reasons underlie challenges to visa-free travel with Russia

The ongoing historic reconciliation between the Baltic states and Poland and Russia on the other hand interfere with achieving an EU-Russia agreement on visa-free travel, European Economic and Social Committee President Henri Malosse said.

The ongoing historic reconciliation between the Baltic states and Poland and Russia on the other hand interfere with achieving an EU-Russia agreement on visa-free travel, European Economic and Social Committee President Henri Malosse said.

"Some EU members, as you can easily imagine, with whom I speak about it show a lack of good will on this issue. The Russian government also bears part of the responsibility," Malosse said, answering an Interfax question on why there has been no progress on visa-free travel.

"And is there a standoff, a kind of anti-Russian stir among the political elite of the Baltic states and Poland? This is why the reconciliation process between these people has not been successful," he said.

The reconciliation between Germany and France happened 50 years ago and that had an enormously positive influence on these countries' relations, he said.

"The reconciliation process costs nothing, and there is no reason for Russia to fear Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. Make your own efforts towards reconciliation. Admit the faults committed by the Soviet Union, since they continue to be considered the mistakes of present-day Russia," he said.

Malosse is certain that the situation would change then. "The visa problem is primarily a political problem. Technical issues are secondary here," he said.

"Unresolved problems of the past underlie" anti-Russian sentiments among representatives of the Baltic states and Poland, Malosse said.

"Unless you clean up the pages of your past, so to speak, until you reach an agreement on every disputed issue with your neighbors, misunderstandings and mutual annoyance will unfortunately continue," he said.

The European Economic and Social Committee was set up in 1958 in line with the Treaty of Rome. It is a EU consultative body that represents the interests of Europe's civil society.

The committee issues recommendations that are mandatory for consideration by EU bodies.

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