Estonian PM calls for total ban on Russia in the Schengen zone
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas says visiting Europe is a privilege and not a human right.
Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas called on all members of the Schengen zone on Tuesday to stop issuing visas for Russians.
Stop issuing tourist visas to Russians. Visiting #Europe is a privilege, not a human right. Air travel from RU is shut down. It means while Schengen countries issue visas, neighbours to Russia carry the burden (FI, EE, LV – sole access points). Time to end tourism from Russia now— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) August 9, 2022
She identifies the three "sole access points," namely Estonia, Latvia, and Finland as "carrying the burden" for bordering Russia and hosting Russian tourists.
The Schengen Agreement is a treaty that led most of the European countries toward the abolishment of their national borders.
It allows border-free travel among 26 European countries with the inclusion of some non-EU countries.
This tweet follows Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's call issued yesterday in an interview for the Washington Post to implement a year-long prohibition on all Russian travelers and energy imports.
“Don’t you want this isolation? You’re telling the whole world that it must live by your rules. Then go and live there. This is the only way to influence Putin,” Zelenski said during his interview as if he is directly addressing the Russian people.
Last week, Estonia's Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu likewise expressed he wanted to see an EU-wide travel visa ban on Russian citizens in the next round of the bloc’s sanctions on Moscow.
He also argued that Estonia was ought to follow Latvia's lead which required that all Russian nationals who sought entry sign a statement denouncing the Ukraine war; this rule would need to also be applied to those seeking citizenship through naturalization.
Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov touched on the issue of the Schengen region denying visas to Russians, underlining that this would prompt Moscow to take retaliatory measures.
"Of course, Russia will react extremely negatively to this. As far as we understand, so far, this decision has not found any, let's say, application ... Let's hope that it will not," he told reporters.
Estonia has been a very strong ally of Ukraine throughout the conflict. It has cooperated with Ukraine on all fronts - diplomatic, economic, including military fronts.
Estonia 🇪🇪 has provided 240M eur in military aid to Ukraine 🇺🇦 and is housing 30K+ refugees. We will keep working relentlessly also on diplomatic front on the 6th package of the EU🇪🇺sanctions. No excuse to rest before this horror is over. #StandWithUkraine️ pic.twitter.com/K1xIYpUk1f— Marten Kokk (@martenkokk) April 17, 2022
Since the beginning of the conflict, Estonia ceased to issue most types of visas for Russians. Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and the Czech Republic – have also imposed visa restrictions.
However, Estonia can’t prevent Russian citizens from entering if they have a visa issued by another EU member state.
For a total EU-wide to ban to be implemented, it would require the approval of all of the bloc’s 27 member-states.