Before the war in Ukraine (and before Corona) you might have encountered Russians at your vacation destination. But since February 24 of this year, the day the Russians invaded Ukraine, the chances of that should be much lower. Does, as this is not always the case in practice, to the dismay of Estonia and Finland.
1. What do the politicians in Estonia and Finland say?
Estonia’s foreign minister makes no mistake. “It is remarkable how masses of Russian tourists can visit the Louvre during school holidays, while children are being murdered in Ukraine.” “Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” says the Prime Minister of Estonia.
Finally, the Prime Minister of Finland said: “It is not fair that while Russia is fighting an aggressive and brutal war in Europe, Russians can lead a normal life, travel in Europe and be tourists.” Therefore, both countries believe that the European Union should stop issuing tourist visas to Russians.
2. Why are these tourist visas such a hot topic?
You might be thinking: Huh? Were not sanctions imposed on Russia shortly after the start of the war, including in the field of air and rail transport? Right. It has not been possible for Russians to travel to Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin and many other European cities for six months now. The same goes for the train.
But the car or the bus, this is not a problem. Russia borders EU countries such as Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. If Russians are driving to an airport in one of those countries, they can continue to fly to the rest of the European Union.
The above applies only if they have a tourist visa. If they have it, they can travel without any problem between the member states of the Schengen area. Most EU countries are members of this, including the Netherlands.
Now Russians do not necessarily have to apply for that visa in one of the neighboring countries in the European Union. Suppose the Netherlands, France or Germany grant a visa to a Russian, countries like Finland and Estonia simply cannot stop the Russian in question at the border. This means that the Russian can continue his way to the French, Italian or Spanish Riviera.
3. Will they come?
It seems. Especially since Russia also eased its own coronavirus restrictions last month. Since then, the number of Russians crossing the Finnish border has increased by 30 percent compared to the spring.
Some cross the border because they got a visa from Finland itself. Currently, there is no legal basis in Finland for refusing entry to a person on the basis of citizenship. In addition, there are a lot of Russians who got a visa from a completely different country in the European Union.
4. Where can you meet Russians?
Before we tour a number of holiday countries, it is good to say that it is difficult to know how many Russian tourists are in a country. However, there is more to be said about the number of visas granted to Russians.
Starting with the Netherlands. At the Norwegian Refugee Council He informs the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that our country has stopped issuing tourist visas to Russians since the end of April. This is mainly the result of the problems of the staff at the embassy. This, in turn, is a consequence of the fact that Russia has expelled some individuals.
By the way, applying for a visa to the Netherlands was a problem before. Our country requires a certificate of vaccination and we do not accept the Russian Sputnik vaccine.
This is also the reason why a French holiday should not be a problem for Russians. They do not have to show a certificate of vaccination. And a trip to Germany is also an option. Between March and July of this year, Germany issued more than 14,000 visas to Russians. That’s nearly double what it was in all of 2021.
It is clear from the statements of German politicians that history also plays a role. For example, a politician from the Free Democratic Party says: “We don’t want to put up a new iron curtain.” And another politician in Sueddeutsche Zeitung: “We should not make the whole of Russian society suspicious. It would be unjustified.”
Finally, Russians can also travel to Spain and Greece. They weren’t stopped there due to Corona restrictions either. According to the Finns, it seems that many Russians travel to these two countries in southern Europe through their airports.
5. Will the EU respond to the Estonian-Finnish request?
In any case, the request will be discussed. It is likely to be discussed by EU foreign ministers at the end of this month. It is on the agenda of the EU summit in October.
However, the EU appears to be committed to the visa ban for Russians on the sanctions list. There doesn’t seem to be a more comprehensive ban at the moment.
The above article is related to the celebration of holidays and the issuance of tourist visas. There are of course many reasons why Russians need a visa to enter Europe.
Examples include family reunification, family circumstances, and people at political risk or insecure because of their sexual orientation. In such circumstances, the visa application is not simply refused. Not even by countries like Holland, Finland and Estonia.
“Infuriatingly humble social media buff. Twitter advocate. Writer. Internet nerd.”
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