BRUSSELS: The move would lack the necessary support from member states, the bloc’s foreign policy chief has said
A full visa ban for all Russians, in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, is unlikely to receive unanimous support in the EU, the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said on Sunday.
Speaking to Austrian broadcaster ORF, Borrell noted that some EU foreign ministers will be reluctant to endorse the measure when they meet later this week in Prague.
“I don’t think that to cut the relationship with the Russian civilian population will help and I don’t think that this idea will have the required unanimity,” he said.
The EU foreign policy chief believes the bloc should embrace a more selective approach.
“I think that we have to review the way that some Russians get a visa, certainly [not] the oligarchs. We have to be more selective. But I am not in favor of stopping delivering visas to all Russians.”
Any ban would require all ministers to reach an agreement, which might be difficult given that several EU member states do not back the measure, including Germany, Hungary, Cyprus, and Portugal. Earlier this month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the Ukraine conflict “is not the war of the Russian people,” calling on his Western colleagues to distinguish between the people of Russia and the nation’s leadership.
However, on Sunday, the Financial Times reported that EU foreign ministers plan to back a suspension of the 2007 EU-Russia visa facilitation deal. As a result, the process of applying for EU visas might become more complicated and expensive, and the waiting time could increase.
“It is inappropriate for Russian tourists to stroll in our cities, on our marinas,” a senior EU official told the newspaper at the time. “We have to send a signal to the Russian population that this war is not OK, it is not acceptable.”
Earlier, a number of countries, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Latvia, stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas argued last week that Russian tourists pose a security threat to the country.
Commenting on the visa ban proposals discussed at the EU level, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov noted that such initiatives “don’t smell too good,” expressing hope that common sense would eventually prevail.