Oslo: Finland has pushed for entry bans on Russian tourists to the European Union (EU) during a summit meeting with other Nordic countries and Germany.
“Russian citizens did not start the war, but at the same time we have to realise that they support the war,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Monday, echoing a call made days ago by Estonia.
“I don’t think it’s right that Russian citizens can enter the EU and the Schengen area as tourists and go sightseeing while Russia is killing people in Ukraine.”
Finland, which borders Russia and is joining security alliance NATO following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, is already considering ways to unilaterally restrict tourist visas for Russian citizens, reports dpa news agency.
Earlier, the Finnish Foreign Ministry had raised concerns that the country is being used as a transit country by some Russian tourists to enter the EU before travelling on to their final destination within the bloc.
Tourist visa for countries that are part of the so-called Schengen area, which is made up of 22 EU countries as well as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, allow tourists to travel freely between the countries.
But German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday again spoke out against an EU entry ban for Russians, citing citizens fleeing President Vladimir Putin’s regime.
“All the decisions we make should not make it more complicated for them to seek freedom and leave the country to escape the dictator in Russia,” he said. “It is not the war of the Russian people, it is Putin’s war.”
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the idea should be discussed.
“It is understandable that some Europeans, and perhaps especially Ukrainians, find it a bit strange that Russia has attacked a European country and at the same time we receive tourists from a country that has attacked another country,” she said.
Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said her government had not yet formed an opinion.
“There are strong arguments on both sides,” she said.
Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, whose country is not in the EU, said his country would support any joint action.
Meanwhile, Latvia, who also shared a land border with Russia, has already tightened visa requirements.