Should Russians be banned from the Schengen area? The EU is falling apart

The 26 countries in the Schengen area for free movement are far from reaching an agreement on issuing visas to Russians. The Czechs want to suspend the 2007 agreement that eased visa applications for Russian tourists. “There is no room for tourism”said Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavsky, adding that this measure “would send a signal to the elite in Moscow and St. Petersburg”now free to travel.

Russia’s neighbors Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have also called on Brussels to ban the issuance of visas to Russian tourists to the Schengen area.

“Time to Target Ordinary Russians”

For Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu, it is time to target ordinary Russians after the suspension of the issuance of visas to official delegations and Russian business leaders. “These silent private people should also understand that there are consequences of war,” he declared. “What is literally being paid for with their tax money is the bombs that are now, literally, right now, killing Ukrainian children and bombing…hospitals, kindergartens, schools”.

But other members, including Hungary, Luxembourg and Austria, have a different view. “I don’t think the visa ban is an appropriate decision under the current circumstances”said Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

“Avoid a new iron curtain in Europe”

Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn also objected to a measure affecting ordinary Russians. “We must not have a new iron curtain in Europe. We all agreed from the start that this was Putin’s war”.

His French counterpart, Catherine Colonna, offered to “Distinguish between the warmongers, headed by the Russian president, his entourage and all those who support his war effort, and Russian citizens, artists, students, journalists for example”.

Germany offers a compromise

Their Austrian colleague, Alexander Schallenberg, for his part believed that the EU should not “pass a categorical judgment on 140 million people” in Russia. The German government proposed a compromise on Tuesday. “It can be a very good way to make it clear that we are suspending visa facilitation agreements, that we are no longer issuing multiple visas or multi-year visas”, declared the head of German diplomacy Annalena Baerbock who wants “brings together different points of view” within the EU to find a common European solution.

Three million visas were requested by Russians in 2021 from “Schengen” countries

In 2021, the 26 countries in the Schengen area of ​​free movement received three million visa applications in 2021, with Russians being the most numerous (536,000 applications with around 3% refusals). Refusals that can be appealed must be justified (threat to security, public order or one of the states’ international relations). Estonia regretted not being able to ban entry “for persons with a visa from another country in the Schengen area”. “Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right”launched its Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

Therefore, let us remember that Russian tennis players were not allowed to participate in the last Wimbledon tournament, which will definitely take place in Great Britain, a country that is not part of the Schengen area.

The Russian passport is currently ranked 50th in the passport rankings “the most powerful in the world”, with a score of 119 destinations available without a visa or with an entry visa. Japan, which occupies the first place in this ranking, with a record score of 193 available countries.