Over the past two months, EU countries have, one by one, taken measures to limit the number of Russian citizens arriving in Europe. After Zelensky’s call for a complete ban on Russian citizens, Estonia, Finland and Latvia joined the plead for EU members to restrict Russians’ access.
At the beginning of September, the European Commission moved to suspend the Visa Facilitation Agreement between the EU and Russia, but the Council still needs to adopt the proposal. In the meantime, Finland reduced visas for Russian tourists by 90%, while Estonia reminded other member states that the countries bordering Russia have to suffer all the incoming tourists, even if the visas are issued by other countries in the Schengen area.
On Wednesday, Finland announced it will take additional national measures to “limit or completely prevent” Russian tourists from entering the country. “This national solution may include new legislation, which would be adopted very quickly,” Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said at a press conference.
Finland does not want to be a country that is a transit country for Schengen visas issued by other countries either.Pekka Haavisto, Foreign Minister of Finland
Despite Finland limiting the number of visas it issues for Russian tourists, the end of the Covid-19 travel restrictions in July heavily increased the number of visitors. Other Schengen members still issue visas, but since flights are not permitted, bordering countries become transit hubs.
Finnish newspaper Ilta-Sanomat conducted a poll which showed that 70% of citizens want their country to completely stop issuing visas for Russian tourists. Haavisto said that they need to take additional measures at the national level since it cannot be guaranteed that a limit or ban will be implemented at EU level very quickly.