The European Union (EU) foreign ministers have agreed to suspend the visa agreement with Russia. They took this decision in a meeting in Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, last Wednesday (August 31). The move will make it more difficult and expensive for Russian citizens to enter Europe.
At the end of the two-day meeting, EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell said at a press conference, “We have agreed to a complete suspension of the EU-Russia visa agreement.”
He said it would significantly reduce the number of new visas issued by EU member states.
However, due to disagreements in the meeting, the EU could not impose a complete visa ban on Russia. Ukraine and some member countries demanded a visa ban on Russia, but it was not possible due to the objection of some countries like France and Germany.
Borrell said cross-border inflows from Russia into neighboring countries had increased significantly since mid-July. This has become a safety hazard for the neighbors.
“We saw many Russian citizens traveling for leisure and shopping as if there was no war going on in Ukraine,” he said.
More than 1 million Russians have traveled to Europe since the start of the war in Ukraine last February. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Glushko said the EU was shooting itself in the foot and the move would be met with a befitting response.
Some Eastern European countries may impose more restrictions on Moscow. Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, the five EU member states bordering Russia, said in a joint statement that they may impose temporary restrictions or restrictions to address emerging national security concerns.
But France and Germany warned in a joint statement that “far-reaching restrictions” could victimize Russia and alienate future Russian generations.
Sources: BBC, Reuters
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