Estonia to propose EU-wide ban on Schengen visas for Russians

Estonia to propose EU-wide ban on Schengen visas for Russians

Estonia will prepare a proposal to Brussels to block Russian citizens from entering Europe as a baseline rule, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said on Friday.

Tallinn on Thursday rolled out another package of sanctions against Moscow over its military operation in Ukraine, banning Russian citizens from obtaining visas and residence permits for studying purposes and applying for short-term employment without a valid Estonian visa.

"As a basic rule, the entry of Russian citizens into Europe should be blocked, and Estonia will make this proposal. At the end of August I will meet with foreign ministers of other European countries in Prague, and I will then present a plan for Europe-wide restrictions," Reinsalu said in an interview with Vikerraadio broadcaster.

According to Reinsalu, Estonia could apply the rule already in place in Latvia, which obliges Russian citizens entering the country to declare at the border that they condemn Russia's actions in Ukraine.

"This principle could also be extended to obtaining Estonian citizenship through naturalization," the minister added.

Reinsalu also said that previously issued and still valid Estonian visas should be revoked, despite the fact that such steps have never been taken before, adding that more than 50,000 valid Schengen visas have been issued to Russian citizens in Estonia, which is "too many."

On Thursday, EU commission said that EU countries cannot completely stop issuing Schengen visas to Russian citizens, adding, however, that EU member states could decide for themselves on the issuance of short-term Schengen visas, and consider each application on an individual basis.

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