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SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

05.08.2015

Reply by press-secretary of the Embassy of the Russian Federation to the UK to Russian media question on UK’s diminishing Russian diplomatic presence in Great Britain

Question: How do you assess the current bilateral relations between Russia and the UK on the visa track, have you advanced?
Answer: The word “progress” means moving forward. That does not apply to the present picture of our bilateral relationship as the British side is trying to shape it.
Persistence of confrontational rhetoric towards Russia has already entailed a considerable cutback in visas, which means a decrease of tourist, business, cultural exchanges and contacts between people at large. From bad to worse, nothing is off limits to our British counterparts.
The point is that the British side has decided to stop extending diplomatic and official visas for those staff members of the Russian Embassy in London and Consulate General in Edinburgh who stay in their positions over five years, and to extend visas for others regardless of the requested period, quite arbitrarily.
Such a step cannot be considered other than a clear violation of international obligations, in particular, Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961. According to the Convention the functions of a member of the mission come to an end after a relevant notification is served by the sending state to the receiving state. The Convention does not provide the receiving state with the authority to limit the length of stay, with the exception of cases when a member of a mission is declared persona non-grata or an unacceptable person by the receiving state.
Thus, by implication, the imposition of time limit equals a declaration of a member of the mission persona non-grata, effected in contravention of Art. 9 of the said Convention. In practice it means expulsion. Such a step can be viewed as running counter to Arts. 7 and 10, which stipulate that appointment of a diplomatic agent, with the exception of the head of the mission, does not require consent of the receiving state and is done by notification.
Under Art. 25, the receiving state shall accord full facilities for the performance of the functions of the mission. We proceed from the assumption that “full facilities” mentioned in Art. 25 would, among other things, refer to issue of relevant documents enabling unrestricted entry and departure of diplomatic agents to and from the receiving state.
In spite of our repeated appeals, this British «know-how» has been already deployed by the Home Office in coordination with the Foreign Office. This is evidenced by the fact that our senior diplomat had to depart the UK last month because his visa was not extended, another diplomat left without replacement this month, two staff members would have to leave for the same reason. The extensions of their visas were made for three months instead of one or two years, in other words, that time was given «to pack up». It goes without saying that it is practically impossible to prepare and process a replacement within such limited period of time. And even if we succeed in doing that, the Embassy experiences prolonged delays in issuing British visas for our new staff members who cannot arrive to take up their duty. Besides, we incur substantial financial losses by paying rent for apartments of our staff while they are vacant.
Those attempts of the British authorities, and we have been told that this is their consolidated position, to degrade our ability to function as a diplomatic mission are aimed at diminishing and limiting the Russian diplomatic presence in the UK and to hamper our work in violation of the Vienna Convention of 1961.
Such an obvious attempt by the British side to wreck at its own will the established international order which testifies to a dangerous gamble by the UK in respect of the Russian diplomatic and consular missions. A lot to think about for all foreign diplomatic missions to the UK, which the UK has difficulties with in bilateral relationship.

 




LATEST EVENTS

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