High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell does not support the idea of introducing a complete ban on visas for Russian citizens. He said this during an international conference in the Spanish city of Santander on August 22.
< p>“This is a very controversial proposal… Some countries have already taken certain measures in this regard, others are not going to support it. I don't think it's a good idea to ban all Russians from entering. We need to be more selective”,” Borrell said.
The diplomat noted that it is necessary to consider the introduction of visa restrictions only against representatives of big business from Russia, and not against ordinary people. Borrell believes that “those who want to leave the Russian Federation should be given such an opportunity”, and the oligarchs do not need to open the doors.
Which European countries support the ban on visas for Russians
In the beginning August, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky called on Western countries to ban Russian citizens from entering. According to him, this could make it impossible for Russia to annex Ukrainian territories. He was supported by Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.
It should be noted that on August 31, EU foreign ministers at a meeting in Prague will discuss visa restrictions for Russians against the backdrop of the war in Ukraine. At the same time, some countries support a complete ban on the issuance of tourist visas to Russian citizens.
- Earlier, Estonia proposed to the European Union to completely ban the issuance of visas to Russians. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that the country considers the mass trips of Russians to Europe morally wrong while there is a war in Ukraine. On August 11, the Estonian government decided to ban Russians with valid Schengen visas issued by Estonia from entering the country.
- Several Finnish deputies also called for a halt to issuing visas to Russians – however, the country's authorities said they would wait for a joint EU decision on this question.
- On August 18, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Latvia offered employers to terminate employment relations with citizens of Russia and Belarus if they do not have the status of a permanent resident of the EU. The Ministry of Internal Affairs also proposes to suspend the issuance of long-term visas until June 30, 2023.
Why the EU refuses to introduce a complete ban on the issuance of visas to Russian citizens
The Finnish edition of Helsingin Sanomat received a response to a request from the European Commission, which stated that the EU would not be able to introduce a complete ban on issuing visas to citizens of the Russian Federation. According to the European Commission, a complete ban on visas to Russians is not in line with EU visa policy. The department noted that the sanctions against Russia are aimed specifically at the government and the economic elite. The purpose of these restrictions is to prevent the financing of the war in Ukraine. The sanctions themselves are not directed against ordinary Russians. At the same time, the European Commission did not say whether such a question was raised at all, but referred to the confidentiality of discussions.
Note that the EU has partially suspended the agreement, which allowed the issuance of certain visas to Russians in a simplified and fast manner. This means that Russian diplomats, businessmen and officials cannot use the special procedure. Instead, they have to apply in the standard way and wait for a visa like everyone else.
In Finland, there is already a discussion about limiting the issuance of tourist visas to Russians. Because citizens are annoyed that they keep going to Finland and Europe while Russia is at war with Ukraine. Helsinki is also considering the possibility of limiting the issuance of tourist visas, in particular by limiting the acceptance of applications and more frequent refusals.