Secretary-General of the Council of Europe Walter Schwimmer told Russian Federation Council Speaker Sergei Mironov that he supports Russia's proposals to facilitate travels of Russian citizens over Europe.
However, "there is certain counteraction" in this problem, Schwimmer noted. The ministers' committee of the Council of Europe will continue its work on this issue, he added.
"Certainly, it would be insubstantial to consider the cancellation of visa regulations in the near future but it is necessary to work out clear and precise criteria of granting visas and visa tariffs and to envisage privileges for young people and students," Schwimmer said.
The secretary-general pointed to the common standpoint of Russia and the Council of Europe on the necessity to build a united continent without border lines. "The expansion of NATO and the European Union should not hamper this process. Europe is only one," Schwimmer said.
Sergei Mironov expressed concern for the observation of rights of the Russian-speaking population in the Baltic States. "Russia is especially concerned for Latvia's unwillingness to ratify the convention on the rights of national minorities. The Council of Europe could more actively influence Latvia's standpoint," Mironov said.
Shwimmer pointed to certain progress in the human rights' issue in the Baltic States, however, there are some unsolved problems. According to him, the Council of Europe "is ready for critical dialogue on this issue with the Latvian authorities." Mironov pointed out successful cooperation between Russia and the Council of Europe on the solution of the Kaliningrad problem (the Kaliningrad region in Russia's exclave on the Baltic Sea). He called on the Council of Europe "to return to unfreezing of Belarus's claim on equal membership in the Council of Europe and to restore its status of special invitee at PACE sessions."