Russian tourists with valid Schengen tourist visas will be banned from entering Estonia from September 19, 2022 , Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The order will remain in effect indefinitely. This was reported by the Estonian newspaper Err, citing a government decree.
“Together with Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, we want to significantly restrict the entry of Russian citizens whose purpose is tourism. Today, together with the prime ministers of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, we will make a statement on this matter. We have already assessed this as necessary,” Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said during the government's weekly press conference. She stressed that there would be a number of exemptions, including for truck drivers, diplomats and humanitarian entrants. According to the official, one of the reasons for the entry ban is security, since Estonia cannot carefully check every arrival.
At the same time, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that Russian tourists should not come to Estonia. “You're not welcome here!” – he said, adding that the Russophobic ban on crossing the border by our compatriots with valid Schengen visas will come into force on September 19.
This was confirmed by Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets, who said that from this date tourists from Russia will not be able to enter Estonia through the country's external border with the Russian Federation for the purpose of tourism, sports or culture. “By doing so, we close an important route to the European Union for Russian citizens,” he said.
The Ministry of the Interior estimates that the number of Russians entering Estonia every day will be reduced from 500-400 to about 100. Last Wednesday it was announced that the Baltic countries had reached an agreement in principle to ban Russian tourists from entering the EU through their countries. The rules will be applied at the national level by each country.
“It is important to emphasize that all these decisions that we are taking in the coming days and weeks are national measures and, of course, they will be carried out in full coordination with the countries,” Reinsalu explained at a press conference in Lithuania on Wednesday.
Last Thursday, Kallas said that the European Commission agreed last week that countries bordering Russia have the right to restrict entry at the national level. They are still looking for a pan-European approach, she added.
Finland, the Baltic states and Poland have seen a significant increase in the number of Russian tourists transiting through these countries since Russia lifted coronavirus travel restrictions earlier this summer. Air traffic has been suspended since February.
While several countries, including the Baltic States and the Czech Republic, have stopped issuing new visas to our compatriots, many other countries are not allowed to enter the EU through their land borders. Finland has said it may implement a similar ban in the future, but is currently awaiting clarification from the EU.
Estonia has issued almost 50,000 valid visas
As of Monday, September 5, Russian citizens have 49,804 valid visas issued by Estonia, 47,998 of which are short-term and 1,805 long-term visas. In 19.285 cases the purpose of the trip is tourism, and in 20.389 cases it is visiting family and friends.
Other countries issue more than three million Schengen visas per year, valid for up to five years and allowing multiple entries into the Schengen area. It is estimated that at least 10 million Russians hold a valid short-stay Schengen visa.
Joint Statement: “This is not an outright entry ban”
Joint Statement, prepared by Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland was published on Thursday afternoon. Here are excerpts from it: “Countries bordering Russia are increasingly concerned about the significant and growing influx of Russian citizens into the European Union and the Schengen area across our borders. We consider this to be a serious threat to our public safety and the common Schengen area.
Among the Russian citizens entering the EU/Schengen area, there are those who arrive with the aim of undermining the security of our countries, since three-quarters of Russian citizens support Russia's special operation in Ukraine. Our border services require enormous resources to keep Europe safe and to ensure that Russian citizens entering the Schengen area do not pose a threat to our common security and the stability of our society. It is also unacceptable that citizens of the Russian Federation can travel freely within the EU… Most visas were issued to Russian citizens before the start of the special operation, under various geopolitical conditions and considerations. Traveling to the European Union is a privilege, not a human right.
We welcome the decision to suspend the EU visa facilitation agreement with Russia as a necessary first step. However, further measures are needed both to drastically limit the number of issued visas (primarily tourist visas) and to reduce the flow of Russian citizens to the European Union and the Schengen area. At the recent Gimnich meeting in Prague, Member States acknowledged the increasingly difficult situation in those Member States that border Russia, leading to the adoption of appropriate measures at the national level to restrict the entry of Russian citizens into the European Union through their borders.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have agreed on a common regional approach and hereby express their political will and firm intention to introduce national temporary measures for Russian citizens holding EU visas in order to address the imminent threats to public policy and security and restrict entry into the Schengen area for Russian citizens traveling for tourism, cultural, sports and business purposes.
National temporary measures based on a common approach should come into force in each of our countries separately by September 19, 2022. The measures are taken on the general grounds of protecting public policy and internal security, as well as the general security of our common Schengen area. We continue to look for a common approach at the EU level and have asked the European Commission to propose appropriate measures regarding visas and entry restrictions that could be applied in a unified manner by all European Union Member States and Associated Schengen Area Countries.
We emphasize that this is not an outright entry ban and the generally accepted legal exceptions will remain in place for dissidents, humanitarian cases, family members, residence permit holders, freight and transport facilitation, diplomatic missions, transit facilitation people through Kaliningrad, etc.”
For those who value a healthy lifestyle, we recommend reading: “It has been established that people who snore are at risk of getting cancer.”