Helsinki vows to stop being a “transit country” for Russians with visas issued by other EU members
Finland is “working” on new regulations that would further toughen the restrictions introduced against Russian tourists, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told journalists on Wednesday, on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
“Finland does not want to be a transit country, not even for [holders of] Schengen visas issued by other nations,” Haavisto said, adding that Helsinki seeks to bring the Russian tourist traffic “under control.”
The Finnish foreign ministry is currently working with a group of experts on a “solution” that would help Finland “limit this traffic or completely stop it,” the foreign minister said, adding that the measures might involve some new laws or amendments to existing ones. In any case, the national parliament “will quickly deal with it,” Haavisto said, without naming any specific dates for the potential changes.
Unlike the Baltic States, which repeatedly cited “security reasons” for introducing visa restrictions against Russian tourists, Finland does not see Russians traveling to the EU as a security threat, Haavisto said.
“An ordinary person traveling for the purpose of tourism is not a security threat,” the minister said, adding that there is “a moral and ethical principle involved.” Russians cannot just continue to spend their vacations in Europe as normal when their nation is “waging a war,” according to Haavisto.
Finland already has a mechanism in place that allows it to deny visas to Russians and deny entry to those who had already received them. Earlier this week, Helsinki also asked Brussels to allow EU nations denying entry to a Russian person to revoke their visas or place them on a Schengen entry ban list as well. The measure would prevent such people from entering the bloc through another member’s territory, Finland argued.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has questioned the EU visa restrictions against Russians. On Sunday, he said doing so “may not be a good idea,” according to the RIA news agency.
The EU suspended a visa facilitation agreement with Russia earlier this month. Some member states also stopped issuing tourist and business visas, while the three Baltic states and Poland announced they would deny entry to all Russian citizens, even those with valid Schengen visas issued by other EU members.