Nordic countries and Germany divided over Russian tourist visas
The Nordic countries and Germany showed signs of division in Oslo on Monday on a limitation, in reaction to the invasion of Ukraine, of tourist visas issued to Russians. This measure advocated by Helsinki arouses reluctance in Berlin.
“Ordinary Russians did not start the war, but at the same time we have to understand that they support the war,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said after a meeting between heads of Nordic and German governments. “It is not fair that Russian citizens can enter Europe, the Schengen area, be tourists (…) while Russia kills people in Ukraine,” she said at a conference of common press.
The Finnish Foreign Ministry presented a plan in early August to limit tourist visas issued to Russians wishing to go to the country, and Helsinki would like a decision at European level. Since the ban on flights from Russia to the European Union, more and more Russian tourists are traveling to the Nordic country, which shares a long border with Russia, to transit to other European states.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has expressed his reservations about such a measure. “It was an important decision on our part to impose sanctions against those who are responsible for the war, against many oligarchs and those who profit financially and economically from the regime of the [président russe] Putin,” he stressed. “We will continue to do so, but I think it’s not the Russian people’s war, it’s Putin’s war,” he said.
According to him, a limitation of tourist visas would also penalize “all people who flee Russia because they disagree with the Russian regime”. “Any decisions we make should not make it harder for them to choose freedom and leave the country in order to get away from the regime and the dictatorship in Russia,” he argued.
Sweden, through the voice of its Prime Minister, Magdalena Andersson, said it had not decided on its position on this subject, while Denmark called for European unity to be maintained against Moscow.