Andrew Keene AP European History- Hr.

2 December 13, 2010 Russia Mulls Visa-Free Travel for EU Train Passengers This article provides coverage of the debate between Russia and the EU over travel restrictions and requirements. Russia possibly could allow visa-free travel for passengers of a high-speed train linking Finland and Russia. Officials in Moscow are pressing the EU to ease the travel restrictions. The goal is to have EU citizens and Russian citizens travel on one of four high-speed trains running throughout Europe without applying for a visa. Both parties arenʼt budging when it comes to changing already standing policy. EU citizens traveling to Russia complain of excessive bureaucracy when applying for visa while Russians say they face long waiting times and embarrassing questions in the European embassies. The proposal on the table now is to eliminate the hassles on both ends. The parties involved in this issue are the governments of the EU and Russia. Also involved are the railroad companies [Finnish] VR-Group, Russian Railways, and [French] Alstrom. This topic relates to the travel aspect of daily life. This issue can relate to a few PERCS but it best relates to “political.” Even though it can be argued that this is a social issue, the forces behind this “stand-still” between parties is political. Both governments want the other to cave in and change their travel policies but both donʼt want to introspect and change their own policy. Vladimir Putin comments,”The visa regime is dictated entirely by political reasons. It is an atavism from the past and should be abolished. If a mediation is reached between the two parties the life of the common people of both the EU and Russia would be greatly impacted. Travel between Russia and EU countries like Finland would become much easier. If one does not need a visa, it is possible to make last minute arrangements and book last minute trains as in the past one needed to apply for visas months in advance. This ease makes it possible for people to live in one country and work in another, take vacations in other countries, and even take day trips to other countries. These possibilities impact oneʼs financial well-being; ability to get a job in a different country, etc. Also, it opens up the ability for a country to capitalize on new tourists. In addition, one can take trips to other countries with easy to attend classes at foreign universities, institutes that cover areas that may not have been accessible in oneʼs native country. It is predicted that the train that runs between St. Petersburg and Helsinki will carry 250,000 passengers in 2011 alone! Based on this statistic, the unrealized potential for the other three trains is immense! It is possible that the catalyst for this issue is Russiaʼs geographic location. Since Russia is very far east it is understandable that traveling to a western EU country might be expensive and/or unfathomable but travel by train might provide a cheaper, easier alternative. With no visa required, it makes travel easy and affordable.

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