Friday

30th Sep 2022

Germany rejects visa ban for Russian tourists

  • German chancellor Olaf Scholz: 'We should not make it more complicated [for Russians] to leave the country,' (Photo: Council of the European Union)
Listen to article

It is important to "remember the many refugees who have fled Russia are disagreeing with the Russian regime" German chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a Nordic summit in Oslo on Monday (15 August), as the debate over EU visa bans for Russian citizens in Europe remains unresolved between EU leaders.

In the past week Lithuania and Estonia — Baltic EU member states bordering Russia — have already suspended tourist visas to Russians. Finland has also expressed support for a visa ban.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

EU countries have banned air travel from Russia. St Petersburg is only 300km 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 checks.

But Finnish prime minister Sanna Marin said at Monday's summit that she did not think it was right for Russian citizens to be allowed to go "sightseeing" in the EU while the Russian military "kills people in Ukraine."

Since Covid restrictions on travel were lifted, Russian border crossings to Finland have increased by between 10 to 30 percent compared to 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 on Monday warned a total exclusion of Russian tourists would backfire and would also harm Russian president Vladimir Putin's opponents.

"All the decisions we make should not make it more complicated to leave the country," Scholz said.

Marin however said that the issue needed to be discussed further by EU member states. "It is not a black-or-white question, there are shades of grey,'' she said.

"I would personally like to see European solutions to this question as well," Marin said last week.

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

UN: 10 million fled Ukraine since war began

The escalation of the war in Ukraine has forced more than 10 million people from Ukraine to cross the border into neighbouring countries since late February, the UN reported.

Finland restricts Russian tourist visas

Russian citizens were circumventing the European airspace ban by driving to Helsinki airport, which was being used as a hub to fly to other tourist destinations. Finland is now restricting those border crossings.

Column

Give Russians more visas — not fewer

It would be unwise to stop letting Russians in. Europe's aim is to stop the war in Ukraine and for Russia to withdraw completely from Ukraine. And that can only happen if Russian citizens start resisting the war.

News in Brief

  1. EU ministers adopt measures to tackle soaring energy bills
  2. EU takes Malta to court over golden passports
  3. EU to ban Russian products worth €7bn a year more
  4. Denmark: CIA did not warn of Nord Stream attack
  5. Drone sightings in the North Sea 'occurred over months'
  6. Gazprom threatens to cut gas deliveries to Europe via Ukraine
  7. New compromise over EU energy emergency measures
  8. 15 states push for EU-wide gas price cap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. The European Association for Storage of EnergyRegister for the Energy Storage Global Conference, held in Brussels on 11-13 Oct.
  2. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBA lot more needs to be done to better protect construction workers from asbestos
  3. European Committee of the RegionsThe 20th edition of EURegionsWeek is ready to take off. Save your spot in Brussels.
  4. UNESDA - Soft Drinks EuropeCall for EU action – SMEs in the beverage industry call for fairer access to recycled material
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic prime ministers: “We will deepen co-operation on defence”
  6. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries

Latest News

  1. Going Down Under — EU needs to finish trade deal with Australia
  2. MEPs worry Russian disinfo weakens support for Ukraine
  3. Everything you need to know about the EU gas price cap plan
  4. Why northeast Italy traded in League for Brothers of Italy
  5. How US tech giants play EU states off against each other
  6. Deregulation of new GMO crops: science or business?
  7. The European shipping giants plying Putin's fossil-fuels trade
  8. Russian ideologue and caviar on latest EU blacklist

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us