Finland to ban Russian tourists due to “a moral and ethical principle"
Finland wants to cease being a “transit country” for Russians with visas issued by other EU members in another showcase of Russophobic policies.
Helsinki is “working” on new rules that would further harden the rules on Russian tourists, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told journalists Wednesday on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Finland does not want to be a transit country, not even for [holders of] Schengen visas issued by other nations,” Haavisto said, adding that Finland looks for bringing the Russian tourist traffic “under control.”
The Finnish foreign ministry is currently seeking a “solution” with a group of experts to help the country “limit this traffic or completely stop it,” the foreign minister said.
Pekka added that the measures might include some new regulations or amendments to those existing. The national parliament “will quickly deal with it,” Haavisto said, without providing a specific date for the possible changes.
Russians who travel to the EU, Haavisto added, are not considered by Finland as a security threat, unlike the Baltic States, which restricted access for Russian citizens holding EU visas by September 19 to deal with "public policy and security threats."
"An ordinary person traveling for the purpose of tourism is not a security threat,” the minister said, adding that there is “a moral and ethical principle involved": Russians cannot just keep spending their vacations in Europe when their country is “waging a war,” Haavisto argued.
A mechanism denying visas to Russians and rejecting entry to Russians who have them is already in place in Finland. Helsinki also asked Brussels earlier to allow EU states that deny entry to Russians to revoke their visas or place them on a Schengen entry ban list too. This would prevent Russians from entering the bloc through another member’s territory, as per Finland.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres previously relayed his hope that conflicts surrounding the EU's suspension of visa processing for Russian citizens will soon be resolved, stating that such measures do not amount to a good idea, according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
Earlier this month, the European Council announced that it has fully suspended visa facilitation between the EU and Russia, thus reversing the agreement that served to simplify visa applications for Russian citizens.
Some member states also stopped issuing tourist and business visas, while the three Baltic states and Poland announced they would deny entry to all Russian citizens, even those with valid Schengen visas issued by other EU members.
In early August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky mused that the Russians should “live in their own world until they change their philosophy,” and urged the West to refuse entry to Russian tourists. Moscow has condemned the new legislation as "flagrant nationalism" and "xenophobia." The Kremlin also expressed hope that "common sense" will win in the long run.
At the end of August, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko asserted that the decision of the EU to suspend the facilitated visa regime with Russia will not remain without consequences, Moscow can respond with both symmetrical and asymmetric measures, which are not expected in Brussels; if they decide to “shoot themselves in the foot” once again, then this is their choice, said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.
It is also worth noting that the EU will lose around €21 billion ($20.97 billion) if it bars Russian tourists from entering the bloc, according to State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, who commented on what he called “the frenzy of proposals to ban our citizens from entering the EU continues.”