26th Mar 2023


Stop the visas — EU is not a Russia holiday destination

  • A travel agency in Simferopol in Russian-occupied Crimea in 2017. (Photo: Loreline Merelle)
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So-called Russian tourists should not be able to travel to the EU and Schengen countries. The Council of the EU must decide to suspend the tourist visas already issued to the Russian citizens and to stop issuing new ones.

The Russian regime waging a war against its neighbour can only exist with the support of its own people. Maintaining a criminal regime comes at a price.

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Furthermore, this is not anymore only Vladimir Putin's regime war against Ukraine — but instead a crucial part of Russian society backs this war.

It is about time that even the wealthiest part of the Russian society, ie mainly the residents of Moscow, St Petersburg and other big cities, become aware that aggression against another country has its price.

Until now, the inhabitants of Russia's bigger cities have largely been shielded from the war, because Russia recruits its soldiers mainly from poor provincial regions.

Several months ago, Europe closed its skies for Russian flights with the idea of preventing the citizens of warring Russia from traveling to Europe.

It should also be understood that traveling to Europe for a vacation or shopping is not some kind of a common right.

Citizens of most countries in the world will never get a tourist visa from the EU, even though their country has never attacked any European country.

Together with my European Parliament colleagues, we recently sent a letter to the EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, Council president Charles Michel and to the Czech prime minister Petr Fiala, calling to suspend the issuance of tourist visas to Russian citizens.

We emphasised that as long as Ukrainian citizens are suffering the atrocities of Russia's war of aggression, Russian citizens should not be welcome in the EU.

The ban on tourist visas does not affect Russian citizens who are entitled to humanitarian visas. There are other options for them.

At the same time, it is necessary to expand sanctions on Russian citizens who are responsible for the war in Ukraine and who support Kremlin's aggressive policies.

While the EU has already taken restrictive measures against a number of Russians citizens, the list needs to be expanded to cover the more than 6,000 Russian nationals indicated by the Navalny Foundation against corruption.

Those 6,000 Russian nationals must be banned from entering the EU and their assets here must be frozen.

Russian citizens will still be able to travel though. Kyrgyzstan and Uganda have just confirmed their great friendship with Russia. Nice destinations for a beach and shopping holiday.

However, the EU and Schengen should not be a shopping and holiday destination to the citizens of the aggressor state Russia.

Author bio

Urmas Paet, Estonian MEP with Renew Europe, is vice-chair of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.


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