International Conference on "72-hour visa-free regime for Russian and Foreign citizens as an instrument of international cooperation", held on 19 March 2013 in Svetlogorsk City:



 

(For the article in Russian and photos of the event, please click here!)

On 19th of March 2013 Hotel "Volna" (Svetlogorsk city) hosted an international conference on "72-hour visa-free regime for Russian and Foreign citizens as an instrument of international cooperation", organized by the Non-profit partnership "Institute of Spatial Planning, Development and Foreign Relations" (NP "IPPRVS").

Participants discussed the latest issues of the unilaterally adopted by Russian side 72-hour visa-free regime for foreign citizens travelling to Russia on ferry vessel, as well as the prospects for the introduction of a similar regime, on an equal footing, for Russian citizens traveling to EU countries, and the role of international cooperation in order to create a mutually beneficial tourism exchange.

The program of this event included: presentations of Russian and European experts from international associations, maritime administration, tourism organizations, higher education institutions and non-governmental organizations on the subject of regulation 72-hour visa-free regime for foreign citizens travelling to Russian Federation, the practice of preferential stay in the Kaliningrad region, international experience of visa-free regime, etc. As participants also attended representatives of the Federal Migration Service of the Russian Federation, the Municipalities of Kaliningrad region, shipping and transport companies and the media.

Moderation and facilitation of conferences, organized in thematic round tables headed by the Director of NP "IPPRVS" Vasilii Kosovskii. Greeting speeches were addressed byAlexander Krasovskiy – Scientific Director of NP "IPPRVS", Sergey Smulskiy - Dean of the National Security Department of Russian presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Martin Guillermo Ramirez - Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR).

First round table and debates were devoted to reviewing the possibilities and prospects of 72-hour visa-free regime for Russian and foreign citizens. In his speech, Alexander Krasovskiy – Scientific Director of NP "IPPRVS", explained main provisions of the 72-hour visa-free regime for foreign citizens travelling to Russian Federation and gave best practice examples on this regard through similar experiences at international (Beijing Airport) and Russian (St. Petersburg) levels.

Sergey Smulskiy - Dean of the National Security Department of Russian presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, stressed the benefits that may come from the introduction of parity 72-hour visa-free regime for all stakeholders. Sergey Smulskiy noted that visa, as an instrument of regulation of entry and exit of citizens crossing state borders in a large-scale using modern ICTs is gradually losing its relevance.

Martin Guillermo Ramirez - Secretary General of the Association of European Border Regions (AEBR) statred his speech with information about the AEBR, its objectives and working areas, and raised the question of the perspectives for the introduction of parity 72-hour visa-free regime for the Russian citizens travelling to the EU. According to Martin Ramirez, he does not see a significant obstacle to the positive response by the EU to such a proposal.

Bugakov Alexey - Senior Communications Officer, Administration of Kaliningrad seaport, in a speech focused on the statistics and trends of ferry and cruise shipping, not only in the Kaliningrad region but in the Baltic region as well. At the conclusion A. Bugakov mentioned that although rates are affordable, some navigation routes in the region are to face growing passenger traffic, and special attention is to be paid to the 33 km canal to Kaliningrad and its further development.

The second round table of event - "Regional aspects of 72-hour visa-free regime," was opened by Director for Strategic Development and Innovation Non-Profit Partnership "Center for research and development of socio-economic systems" - Victor Koshelev. In his speech he mentioned upon the transport accessibility of the Kaliningrad region on the eve of the FIFA World Cup in 2018, with a focus on the prospects for the development of a maritime clluster and the use of the capacity of Baltijsk city as the Russian sea gate to the Baltic Sea.

Toropova Tamara - Chairman of the Kaliningrad region tourism industry Association, spoke about the problems and difficulties faced by members of the association in organizing the flow of tourists to the Kaliningrad region, in particular, were criticized new visa centers in Germany significantly complicated the process of obtaining Russian visas for tourists wishing to visit our region.

Kosovskii Vasilii - Director of NP "IPPRVS", in his closing remarks, mentioned that the discussed 72-hour visa-free regime – is just one of the steps to solving the visa issue. Currently, there are a lot of preconditions for its adoption - economic and social spheres, but in any case, both  the Russian the EU needs to make a sequence of steps in the overall visa-free process, and a 72-hour regime can play a very important role in that sequence.

  • The discussed topics are not left indifferent to attending guests who participated in the discussions. Other questions that were discussed:
  • Yachting in the Kaliningrad region, in particular, the possibility of opening a border crossing in Pionerskiy city,
  • the prospect of development local tourism products for foreign visitors to our region,
  • possibility to opening new ferry lines towards Kaliningrad (Vistuala) Lagoon and the Baltic Sea,
  • and other.

The result of this international conference was the draft of a final document submitted to the participants of the event. Following Vasilii Kosovskii’s, all the contributions and comments from participants will be considered in the consolidation of a document to be submitted to the various governmental and international organizations, decision makers associated with a 72-hour visa-free regime. Working papers of the conference. Sergey Smulskiy suggested to publish a collection of articles, with the aim of informing Russian and international public about the course of events.

 

Svetlogorsk, Kaliningrad, 19th March 2013

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