Baltic States & Poland Consider Introducing a Visa Ban for Russians on National Level
The European Union foreign ministers agreed to suspend the visa facilitation agreement with Russia in a meeting held on August 31 in Prague. However, the Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) and Poland have said that such a measure is not sufficient and are planning to introduce tougher national restrictions.
After the two-day informal meeting, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Estonia, Urmas Reinsalu, said that he supports the suspension of the visa agreement with Russia, but according to him, that alone is not enough.
Since these measures have not been seen as sufficient, Reinsalu said that Estonia, as well as the other countries that share a border with Russia, are considering introducing a visa ban on a national level to limit the entry of Russians who hold valid visas, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.
“Until we have reached a consensus at the EU level on how to limit the entry of Russian citizens into the European Union, Estonia and other countries that share a border with Russia and Belarus are considering establishing a visa ban at the national level or limiting the border crossings of Russian citizens with EU visas,” the statement of Reinsalu reads.
Nonetheless, Reinsalu emphasised that Estonia will still continue to permit entry for Russians arriving for humanitarian reasons as well as for opposition members and protesters.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbergis, who also participated in the informal meeting of the EU foreign ministers in Prague, also said that his country wants to find a solution that would limit the flow of Russian tourists.
“During the discussions, we managed to convince all EU countries that millions of Russian citizens with Schengen visas are a problem not only for the countries bordering Russia but also for the regional security of the EU. Together with Estonia, Latvia, and Poland, in the coming weeks, we will seek to find solutions that will significantly limit the flow of Russian tourists,” Landsbergis stated.
Speaking about the situation in Ukraine, Landsbergis pointed out that the EU countries must be ready to react quickly and demand that international organisations have the right to enter Ukrainian territories to ensure compliance with international law and avoid a nuclear disaster.
Apart from the above-mentioned statements, a joint statement of the ministers of foreign affairs of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland was also released after the meeting, and it said that the high number of Russians entering the EU could become a serious threat to public security.
“Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine is affecting the security of the whole of Europe. Since mid-July, as countries bordering Russia, we have been facing a growing concern about the substantial increase of Russian citizens entering the European Union and the Schengen area across our borders. We believe that this could become a serious threat to public security,” the joint statement of the ministers of foreign affairs of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland reads.
These countries are now expected to come out with an official decision on the matter.