President Vladimir Putin used his country's bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics to urge the European Union to ease travel restrictions for Russians.
„We should be a continent without borders,” Putin said on the slopes of the Krasnaya Polyana ski resort in the mountains above Sochi, one of three finalists for the 2014 Games. „A visa-free regime is not for tourists, it's for everyone.” A delegation from the International Olympic Committee is in the Black Sea resort this week to inspect Russia's bid to host its first Winter Olympics.
Austria's Salzburg and South Korea's Pyeongchang are also in the running. The winner will be announced July 4. Russia and the European Union agreed last year to make it easier and quicker for each other's citizens to travel between the two territories and established a goal of achieving visa-free travel within five years.
„If it were my decision, we would have no visas with the European Union tomorrow, but it has to be on the basis of reciprocity,” Putin told reporters after skiing with a group of children. „We are ready to take action, but some of our European partners aren't prepared.” (Bloomberg)