Government officials in Estonia and Finland, Prime Ministers Kaja Kalas and Sana Marin invited other states and members of the European Union to stop issuing visas to Russian citizens, saying they should not be able to enjoy vacations in European countries while their country is invading Ukraine.
Kaja Kalas, Prime Minister of Estonia, said that European countries must stop issuing tourist visas to Russians because according to her, visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right.
“Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right. Air traffic from RU has been suspended. This means that while Schengen countries issue visas, Russia’s neighbors carry the burden (FI, EE, LV – the only access points). It is time to stop tourism from Russia” said Kalas on Twitter.
Prime Minister of Finland Sanna Marin, also called the EU for an EU-wide ban” on visas for Russian tourists.
“It’s not right that at the same time as Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists. It’s not right ” said Marin, reporting Visegrád 24.
Lithuanian diplomat and a former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of National Defence Linas Antanas Linkevičius also called on all EU member states to join the visa ban for Russian citizens.
According to the Washington Post, the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky also called on the members of the European Union to ban tourists from Russia from traveling to other European countries.
In a wide-ranging interview with The Washington Post, Zelensky said that “the most important sanctions are to close the borders — because the Russians are taking away someone else’s land.” He said Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy.”
The Kremlin also spoke out on this issue, saying that the travel ban was actually their irrational thinking and that this time it went over the top which “doesn’t smell good”.
“The only possible attitude we can have is extremely negative, In fact, this is a statement that speaks for itself. It smells bad. Of course, most likely, their irrational thinking has gone over the top in this case,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday.
He also said that Moscow hoped the EU leadership uses reasoning and “sober thinking” regarding the issuing of Schengen visas to Russians.
The Schengen Area is an area comprising 26 European countries, namely Austria, Hungary, Norway, Belgium, Iceland, Poland, Czech Republic, Italy, Portugal, Denmark, Latvia, Slovakia, Estonia, Liechtenstein, Slovenia, Finland, Lithuania, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Sweden, Germany, Malta, Switzerland, Greece, and the Netherlands.
Many analysts believe that such a ban does not actually bring anything good and that it is just another package of sanctions against Russia that is being introduced. They say that even Russian citizens who do not support the war in Ukraine do not deserve this kind of treatment because they live in a country where democracy has been shaken, but that something more should be done than what has been presented in the previous sanctions against Russia.
Eastern Europe Reporter