Baltic states and Poland: We must 'drastically decrease' flow of Russians into the EU

On August 30-31 2022, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, took part in an informal meeting of the foreign affairs ministers of the European Union (EU), or the so-called 'Gymnich meeting', in Prague, the Czech Republic.

As previously reported by LSM, the meeting produced a decision on the cancellation of the existing visa regime with Russia in response to that country's invasion of Ukraine – though few details about when and how it would take effect were provided.

The Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, plus Poland, had been arguing in favor of a total ban on handing out tourist visas to Russians, and had received support from countries including Finland and the Netherlands, while France and Germany opposed the move. 

A Joint Statement of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland was released, declaring:

Russia’s unjustified war against Ukraine is affecting the security of the whole of Europe. Since mid-July, as countries bordering Russia, we have been facing a growing concern about the substantial increase of Russian citizens entering the European Union and the Schengen area across our borders. We believe that this could become a serious threat to public security.

Suspending visa facilitation agreement with Russia is a necessary first step but we need [to] drastically limit the number of visas issued, above all tourist visas, to decrease the flow of Russian citizens into the European Union and the Schengen area. For this, we seek a common approach on the EU level and asked the European Commission to propose respective measures on visas that could be implemented by the European Union.

These measures should contain exceptions for dissidents as well as other humanitarian cases. We need to continue to support opponents of the Putin regime and provide them with opportunities to leave Russia.

Until such measures are in place on the EU level, we as countries bordering with Russia and Belarus will consider introducing on the national level temporary measures of visa ban, or restricting border crossing for Russian citizens holding EU visas in order to address imminent public security issues.”

Gymnich meeting in Prague, 2022

According to the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs stated that compromises cannot be tolerated when it comes to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and no pressure should be put on Ukraine to agree to an unsatisfactory deal with Russia.

"The interests of the European Union lie in Ukraine’s clear-cut and unambiguous military and political victory," the MFA said.

 

 

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