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EU presidency advocates ‘straightforward signal’ to Russians

The Czech Republic will push for a blanket ban on Russian vacationers to the European Union

The Czech authorities will push for an EU-wide ban on Russian vacationers throughout a ministerial summit in late August, the nation’s international minister, Jan Lipavsky, has mentioned.

The proposal is aimed toward including to the listing of sanctions imposed on Russia over its army operation in Ukraine.

Prague presently holds the bloc’s rotating presidency.

“We are convinced as a government that halting visas for ordinary Russian citizens gives a very clear and straightforward signal to Russian society,” Lipavsky instructed Politico journal on Thursday. He mentioned Russians “should realize that such a militant policy has consequences.”

The politician mentioned he would suggest the measure at a gathering of EU international ministers on August 31 in Prague.

“We are trying to explain to our partners that the approach is justified and effective,” Lipavsky mentioned. He additionally argued {that a} visa ban might assist “decrease the influence of the Russian secret service in the EU.” 

The European bloc has been imposing sanctions and chopping ties with Moscow since Russia launched its army operation in Ukraine in late February. Prague stopped accepting visa functions from Russian residents shortly after the hostilities started.

Latvia stopped issuing visas to nearly all Russians earlier this month, citing safety considerations. Estonia mentioned on Thursday it could do the identical, in addition to banning Russian residents who maintain Estonian visas from getting into the nation from August 18.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas urged EU member states final week to cease issuing vacationer visas to Russians. “Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” she said.

Berlin, nevertheless, opposes a full ban on issuing visas to Russians. “Contacts with civil society, especially its part that it is open to the EU and critical of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, remains important,” the German Foreign Ministry mentioned in an announcement to newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz additionally voiced skepticism a couple of blanket ban, citing “very far-reaching sanctions” imposed on Russia and saying {that a} visa ban would weaken their effectiveness “if it was directed against everyone, including innocent people.”

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba, in the meantime, backed the banning of all Russians from getting into the EU. “Let Russian tourists enjoy Russia,” he wrote on Twitter.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova mentioned the calls to ban all Russians from touring to the EU had been indicators of “flagrant nationalism” and xenophobia.

“I think common sense will take action over time, and those making such statements will come to their senses,” Dmity Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, mentioned on the matter this week.

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