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France Wants a Visa-Free Regime with Russia

The French ambassador said his country does not view Russians as an immigration risk to Schengen states

France would like to abolish short-term visas for Russian tourists due to the lack of a risk of immigration from Russia, French Ambassador to Russia Jean-Maurice Ripert has said.

"We stand for the complete abolition of short-term visas for Russian tourists, as we do not see a risk of immigration from Russia. Yet we are unable to make this decision on our own; it has to be a joint choice of all Schengen member countries," the diplomat told reporters.

He promised the maximum facilitation of the issue of visas to Russians wishing to visit France.

Russian citizens are already enjoying a liberal visa regime, French Consul General Marc Sedille said. "Eighty percent of visas are multi-entry, and about 20 percent of them are valid for five years, which is the maximum term. Only 1 percent of applications are turned down," Sedille said.

The introduction of biometric visas created some problems in September, but they have now been resolved, he said. France opened additional visa centers so that Russians could be finger-printed in regions.

"We are staying in a country where short-term visas are issued to 99 percent of Russian applicants. Why have visas at all in this case? They will definitely be abolished sooner or later," the consul general said, underlining that the decision would have to be made by the European Commission.

According to Atout France, an agency for promoting tourism in France, the country was visited by 500,000 Russian citizens in 2015.

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