Europe

Germany rejects visa ban for Russian tourists

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It is important “to remember that the many refugees who have fled Russia disagree with the Russian regime”, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a Nordic summit in Oslo on Monday August 15, as the debate over the EU visa bans for Russian citizens in Europe remains unresolved among EU leaders.

Last week, Lithuania and Estonia – Baltic EU member states bordering Russia – already suspended tourist visas for Russians. Finland has also expressed support for a visa ban.

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EU countries have banned air travel from Russia. St. Petersburg is only 300 km from the Finnish capital, and Russians can still travel to Estonia and Finland and reach European capitals from there.

Normally, people and goods move freely between these countries without border controls.

But Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at Monday’s summit that she did not think it was right that Russian citizens be allowed to “tour” in the EU as the Russian military “kills people.” people in Ukraine”.

Since the lifting of Covid restrictions on travel, Russian border crossings into Finland have increased by 10-30% compared to the spring, Finnish government officials said last week.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also said in an interview last week that EU countries should deny all Russian tourists access to the bloc as punishment for the Kremlin’s decision to invade Ukraine.

But Scholz warned on Monday that a complete ban on Russian tourists would backfire and also hurt opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Any decision we make should not make it harder to leave the country,” Scholz said.

Marin, however, said the issue needed to be further discussed by EU member states. “It’s not a black or white question, there are shades of gray,” she said.

“I personally would like to see European solutions to this issue as well,” Marin said last week.

The visa issue will be discussed at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers on August 31.

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