Reinsalu: Estonia to formally propose Russian EU visa ban this month

Urmas Reinsalu.
Urmas Reinsalu. Source: Jürgen Randma / riigikantselei

Estonia will make an official proposal to the European Union this month to suspend Schengen visas for Russian citizens, Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said. It is too early to say if it will be agreed upon and a debate will take place at the end of August.

Reinsalu has been pushing for a ban on Russian citizens entering the European Union for several weeks, a proposal backed by Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) on Tuesday. Finland and Latvia also support the move.

He called the proposal "unified and clear". "Not only for tourist visas but in terms of the logic to isolate Russia, to make it as difficult as possible for Russian citizens to enter Europe," he told ERR.

The minister hopes the proposal will be accepted.

"The president of Ukraine [Volodymyr Zelenskyy], when I met with him, unequivocally requested that Europe do this. I think it is appropriate to attempt this now, and I would like to hope that we will succeed in convincing all our partners," Reinsalu said.

Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) supports the plan because he believes sanctions have not had a big enough impact.

"As the air border is closed, Frankfurt Airport is essentially located at the Narva border crossing, and, actually, all this movement takes place from here. I think it is very reasonable that the European Union uniformly imposes such a sanction. So if we can push the decisions in the European Union and influence it, then we should," he told ERR.

Läänemets said the process will not be simple but looking at Finland's stance, Estonia "should not lose hope".

Vivian Loonela, head of the Estonian delegation at the European Commission, said it is hard to say whether the ban will be given the go-ahead, but the Baltic states and Finland have communicated their proposal clearly.

She said, before the start of the war, nobody would have believed the EU could impose such hard sanctions.

"In that sense, everything has changed, I think, this discussion is now definitely taking place in a completely different space and in a completely different time," Loonela said.

Reinsalu said the proposal will likely be discussed at the end of August at the EU foreign ministers meeting in Prague.

The ban is supported by Estonia, Latvia and Finland. The Czech Republic has also imposed restrictions on Russians applying for visas.

On Tuesday, Kaja Kallas said: "Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right."


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Editor: Helen Wright, Merili Nael

Source: "Aktuaalne kaamera"

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