Poland reveals plan for EU-wide Russian visa ban
The Polish Deputy Foreign Minister said Warsaw is working on a proposal to overcome opposition from major Western European countries.
Warsaw is working on a draft proposal that would allow the EU to refuse visas to Russian travelers. A ruling on the subject is expected in the coming weeks, Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Piotr Wawrzyk told the nation's PAP news agency on Sunday.
The deputy minister did not go into detail about the idea, which is still in the works, but stated that its goal is to avoid the opposition of some significant EU countries who are likely to oppose a blanket visa restriction on all Russians.
Poland is in favor of completely suspending the 2007 deal between Brussels and Moscow on "visa facilitation." This convention governs the issuing of visas "for an anticipated stay of no more than 90 days per period of 180 days" for Russian and EU residents.
Yet, according to Wawrzyk, not all EU members are on board with such an initiative. “This is opposed by large member states, including Germany, France, and the Netherlands,” he said. Since it is “impossible to overcome the resistance of these countries to suspend the agreement … Poland is working on a new solution,” he added.
Warsaw has already been holding talks with some EU member states “for several weeks,” the deputy minister said, adding that Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Slovakia, as well as the Czech Republic, are aligned with Poland’s approach to the issue. “We can expect a decision on this matter in the coming weeks,” Wawrzyk said.
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
The deputy minister welcomed the decisions of Tallinn and Riga to suspend or limit the issuance of visas to Russians. “Better late than never,” he said, adding that Poland has not been issuing tourist visas to Russians for several months already. Only diplomats, truck drivers on business in Poland, and family members of Polish and EU citizens are admitted to Warsaw.
EU ban on Russians
Earlier this week, the Czech Republic, which now holds the rotating presidency of the EU, stated that it would advocate for a blanket EU ban on Russians. The topic will be discussed by the bloc's members during a ministerial session in late August in Prague.
Earlier last month, Latvia ceased issuing visas to practically all Russian citizens, citing security concerns. Estonia announced the same on Thursday. Tallinn also intends to prohibit current Russian holders of Estonian visas from entering the country from August 18. Last week, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas declared travel to the EU a "luxury, not a human right," and urged other EU member nations to follow suit.
The Finnish government, which supports the same policy, is set to discuss potential curbs on providing visas to Russians on Tuesday, according to the Finnish YLE radio.
So far, Germany has been one of the few EU countries to oppose such a move. Chancellor Olaf Scholz was skeptical of a blanket ban, claiming that it would undermine the effectiveness of other measures by targeting "innocent people."
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.