While Chancellor Scholz does not want to sanction Russian EU travelers for the attack on Ukraine, Helsinki is getting serious: Russians who want to travel to Finland without good reason will find it very difficult to get a tourist visa from September.
The Finnish government plans to issue fewer tourist visas to Russian citizens from September. "We will limit the number of approved applications to a tenth of the current level," Finland's Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told Finnish Radio in Helsinki. According to information from the broadcaster Yle, around a thousand Russian visa applications are currently being processed in Finland every day.
"At the same time, we want to make it easier for people to come to Finland to work, study or visit relatives," said Haavisto. "So there should be solutions for those who have a reason to come to Finland, but the usual tourist visa should be harder to get." While Finland has tried to help Ukrainian refugees, the number of Russian tourists in the country has recently been high, Haavisto said. "That was difficult for many Finns to accept."
In polls, a majority of people were in favor of stopping issuing tourist visas to Russian travelers because of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. At a summit meeting of Northern European heads of government with Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Monday, Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin pushed for the issue to be discussed in the European Council.
Scholz, on the other hand, had again emphasized that it was about Putin's war and not that of the Russian people. Haavisto said in the afternoon that he was still hoping for a joint solution from the EU foreign ministers' meeting at the end of August.
Estonia and Latvia had previously significantly restricted the issuing of visas for Russians. As of August 18, Estonia will no longer allow Russian citizens to enter the country on a Schengen visa issued by Estonia. Excluded are Russians whose home country is Estonia or who have their permanent residence there. There are also other exceptions, such as visiting relatives. Russian citizens with visas issued by other EU members are also allowed to enter the country. Latvia has indefinitely restricted issuing visas to Russians. The Latvian embassy in Moscow only accepts visa applications from Russian citizens who wish to attend the funeral of a close relative in Latvia.
Poland also wants to present a draft this week that follows the example of the two Baltic countries. The Czech Republic announced a push for an EU-wide travel ban for the end of August.