EU split on visa bans for Russian tourists

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PRAGUE, Aug. 30 (Reuters) – Germany and France have issued a joint warning against a ban on tourist visas for Russians, saying such a move, advocated by other European Union member states, would be counterproductive.

The divisions over tourist visas will be at the center of a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Prague on Tuesday and Wednesday, where they will discuss further steps to take to impose sanctions on Russia for its six-month-old invasion of Ukraine. .

“We warn of far-reaching restrictions on our visa policy, so as not to feed the Russian narrative and cause unintended rallies around the flag and/or alienate future generations,” France and Germany said in a joint Reuters memo.

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The Kremlin said the calls for a visa ban for Russian tourists are the latest example of the West’s anti-Russian agenda.

“Step by step, unfortunately, both Brussels and individual European capitals show an absolute lack of reason,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.

“These are very serious decisions that can be directed against our citizens, and of course such decisions cannot go unanswered,” he added.

“But by responding, we will do it in a way that best suits our interests and protects the interests of our citizens.”

The two leading EU countries Germany and France are calling for close scrutiny of Russian visa applications due to security risks, but believe that visas should still be issued.

“We must not give up support for pro-democracy elements with Russian society,” they said. “Our visa policy should reflect that and continue to allow people-to-people contacts in the EU with Russian citizens who have no ties to the Russian government.

“We should not underestimate the transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems first-hand, especially for future generations,” she added.

DELETE MESSAGE

Others, notably the Eastern and Nordic Member States, have strongly advocated a ban.

“I find it very provocative that you see Russian men on European beaches in southern Europe and at the same time Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 who cannot even leave their country, but have to fight for their freedom,” said the Danish foreign minister. Jeppe Kofod. last week.

“We think it is right that together in Europe we can restrict and cut off tourists from Russia and it would send a clear message to (President) Putin.”

An EU diplomat said foreign ministers could agree in principle to suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Russia, which would mean Russians would have to undergo a longer procedure and pay 80 euros instead of 35 euros for EU visas , but that the division over the ban on tourist visas was too deep for any agreement on it.

Russians usually enter the EU through the land borders of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said last week, adding that these countries can act on their own if the EU cannot agree on a union-wide ban. read more

Meanwhile, defense ministers in Prague will agree in principle on the less controversial move to organize joint military training missions for Ukrainian troops.

EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said he hoped ministers would give him the green light to start working on an EU military training mission for Ukraine.

“A number of EU countries are already organizing training facilities for Ukrainians, but I think it would be good to… make sure that the EU does that collectively in an organized way which could take some time,” said the Irish foreign minister. Business Simon Coveney. in Prague.

The Netherlands also supported the idea, saying it was working with Germany on mine clearance training.

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Report by Sabine Siebold, Jan Lopatka, Ingrid Melander and Bart Meijer; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Alex Richardson and Ed Osmond

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.

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