Only EU countries can decide on Russian visa applications: EU official
It is exclusively the EU countries’ right to decide on visa applications and eventually refuse Russian citizens, an EU official said on Thursday in response to the recent initiative from Estonia, Latvia and Finland to prohibit the entry of all Russians to the bloc’s territory.
“(EU) member states are solely responsible for the assessment of the visa applications on an individual basis and also for the issuance of visas,” Anitta Hipper, a European Commission spokesperson on home affairs, told reporters at the institution’s daily news briefing.
Estonia’s top diplomat Urmas Reinsalu said on Thursday that he will soon present an official proposal that EU foreign ministers can discuss at their informal meeting in Prague, the Czech Republic on Aug. 31.
Decision of EU member states
Hipper acknowledged that according to the European Commission’s visa guidelines, it is possible to refuse visa applications “on grounds of being the threats to public policy or internal security” after examining each case on its own merits.
At the same time, she declined to share the European Commission’s opinion on the northern countries’ initiative, stressing that it is the right of the national authorities, not of the EU executive body, to take such decisions under EU law.
In May, the European Commission issued legally non-binding guidelines on the visa process for Russian citizens after the EU sanctioned Russia, banning, among others, the travel of politicians, officials, and businessmen responsible for the military aggression in Ukraine.
Finnish Premier Sanna Marin also stressed that “it’s not right that at the same time as Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe.”
However, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected on Friday the idea, stressing that “it is (President Vladimir) Putin’s war” and that sanctions should not harm innocent people.