Finnish PM Sanna Marin speaking to Yle on a different occasion at the end of June, Source: Finnish Government (CC BY 2.0)

Finnish PM calls on EU to restrict tourism from Russia

Finnish PM calls on EU to restrict tourism from Russia

That’s one area that still hasn’t been directly affected by sanctions but as discontent with ongoing military aggression grows, this might change

The Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin has urged the EU leaders to limit the issuing of tourist visas to Russian citizens and to do so as a unified policy, akin to other sanction measures. The PM spoke at the start of this week to Yle, the Finnish broadcasting service, after returning from her official holiday.

Her proposal comes at a time when there has been an increasing debate about the fact that Russian tourism to Finland seems to have resumed (albeit in reduced numbers) after the two countries lifted COVID-related restrictions on border crossings. It also seems to be an attempt at a response to the situation, given that critics have said that Finland is now the only country bordering Russia that still issues Schengen visas.

Marin stopped short of calling for a complete ban on Russian tourists

The issuing of Schengen visas from Finland, however, also means that it gives Russian visitors the chance to travel to any of the 26 countries that form part of the Schengen zone. Marin said she hoped that EU countries will decide on the issue together, as it potentially affects almost all of them.

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, be tourists. It's not right,” Sanna Marin told Yle.

"I believe that in future European Council meetings, this issue will come up even more strongly. My personal position is that tourism should be restricted,” she added.

In the meantime, Finland can intervene in the situation itself by making it more difficult to obtain tourist visas, as Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has suggested. In the Foreign Ministry’s view, Schengen rules would allow Finnish officials to prioritise family, study or work visas ahead of tourist visas for the time being, for example.

According to Prime Minister Marin, there is an ongoing discussion of the issue within the cabinet, as well as studies clarifying the legal basis for restricting entry.

She added that it is essential to determine whether legislation must be changed so that Finland can decide on its own national sanctions in exceptional situations.



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