About 12 million – so many Russian citizens currently have valid Schengen visas in their hands. This was stated by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis. This number worries the European Union, and to a greater extent four European countries that have said they will not limit themselves to the decision to withdraw the visa facilitation agreement with the Russian Federation, adopted in 2007. We are talking about Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland. Their goal is to introduce a ban on the Russian tourist flow at the national level.
Concerned about the European Union's regional security, Gabrielius Landsbergis said after a two-day meeting in Prague that the millions of Russian citizens holding valid Schengen visas are a “problem” not only for Russia's neighbors, but also for others.
Given the large number of Russians with Schengen visas in their hands, as well as the number of border crossings since February 24, Landsbergis, together with the foreign ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Poland, said that they are considering the possibility of introducing a visa ban at the national level or restricting Russians from crossing the border.< /p>
The minister explained that by imposing stricter restrictions, Lithuania and other Baltic countries, as well as Poland, want to create more security in the regions, since, in their opinion, a large number of border crossings from Russia could become a serious threat to public security of each EU country.
“During the discussions, we managed to convince all EU countries that the millions of Russian citizens with Schengen visas are a problem not only for the countries bordering Russia, but also for the regional security of the EU. Together with Estonia, Latvia and Poland, in the coming weeks we will strive to find solutions that will significantly limit the flow of Russian tourists,” Landsbergis quoted the Schengenvisainfo portal as saying.
Recall that on August 31, the EU countries could not agree on a complete ban on issuing visas to Russians, but decided to freeze the visa facilitation agreement with the Russian Federation, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said at a briefing on the same day. However, the Baltic States and Poland considered this half-measure insufficient.
For example, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said that suspension of the visa facilitation agreement alone is not enough. At the same time, he noted that even if the authorities decide to introduce a visa ban at the national level, Estonia will still leave the border open for Russian citizens entering for humanitarian reasons, as well as members of the opposition.
Recall, about a million Russian citizens legally entered the EU through land border crossing points from the beginning of the special operation in Ukraine until 22 August. This was reported by the European agency of the border and coast guard Frontex. According to them, the majority of Russians who entered the EU during this period had valid Schengen visas, dual citizenship or a residence permit.
Finland (328'185 Russians), Estonia (281') became the expected leaders in terms of tourist flow 957 legal entry of Russians) with a land border with Russia, as well as several other countries currently actively promoting a ban on the admission of Russian tourists to Europe. Estonia, Poland and Latvia also registered a large number of legal entries of Russian citizens (for details on the statistics, read this link).
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