Following a two-day meeting, the EU Foreign Ministers agreed to suspend the simplified visa regime with Russia. At the same time, border countries were allowed to take unilateral measures to reduce the flow of Russians to Europe “(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >
What the foreign ministers agreed on EU in Prague
Following an informal meeting in Prague, the EU Foreign Ministers made a political decision to suspend the simplified visa regime with Russia. This was announced on August 31 by the head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell. He stressed that this is a political, not a legal decision. The visa issue became the main topic of the two-day talks.
“I will try to retell what we politically agreed on. First, about the complete suspension of the simplified visa regime between the European Union and Russia. Until that moment, it was partially suspended for certain groups of people: officials, entrepreneurs. This means that the volume of new visas issued by the countries— EU members. It will be more expensive (the visa fee will increase from €35 to €80) and longer. As a result, the number of visas will be significantly reduced,— he said at a press conference, emphasizing that the decision is collective in nature, which should prevent “visa shopping”. According to Borrell, visas will be issued on an individual basis and especially to certain categories of citizens, since the EU does not want to cut off Russians who do not agree with the military actions in Ukraine, and representatives of civil society.
< p>Borrell said that the debate on this issue was long and that the foreign ministers of the EU countries also discussed what to do with the millions of Schengen visas already issued to Russians. “There is a common understanding that this situation also needs a collective approach. Therefore, we invited the European Commission to consider this situation and provide recommendations,— he added.
The EU High Representative also said that since mid-July, the number of Russians crossing the border of European countries neighboring Russia (many for shopping purposes) has increased significantly, he called this a security threat. Borrell described the situation in Russia's neighboring countries as a challenge. “We have recognized that these countries can take measures at the national level to prohibit entry into the European Union through their borders,” — said Borrell.
The agreement between Russia and the European community on the facilitation of issuing visas to citizens was ratified by Russia in March 2007. It entered into force on June 1 of the same year. It covers the issuance of visas for stays of up to 90 days within a 180-day period. The agreement also establishes a single fee for issuing visas— €35. It rises to €70 if the visa application is submitted less than three days before the expected date of departure. The parties to the agreement are given ten calendar days to make a decision on issuing a visa, however, if there is a need for additional study of the application, the period can be extended up to 30 working days. In urgent cases, the time for issuing a visa can be reduced to three days.
Each of the parties to the agreement may suspend its operation in whole or in part “for reasons of protecting national security, public order or public health.”
>Read on RBC Pro Pro $10 trillion love silence. How the most powerful investment fund in the world works Articles Pro “The End of Abundance”. What will happen to the European economy and is a crisis possible Articles Pro It will now be possible to recover tax arrears from the beneficiaries of bankrupts looks 45: how malocclusion changes faceThe Financial Times, citing a joint statement it has obtained from the Baltic countries, Finland and Poland, announced the desire of these states to introduce measures at the national level against Russians crossing their borders until the EU comes up with a common solution to significantly reduce the number of Russian citizens entering Schengen zone. “Until such measures are taken at the EU level, we will consider the possibility of introducing temporary measures at the national level to address the pressing public safety problems associated with the increase in the flow of Russian citizens across our borders,” — the newspaper quotes from the document.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsal said following the results of the forum in Prague that Tallinn is considering the possibility of a ban on entry into the country for Russians. “So far we have not reached a consensus at the EU level on restricting the entry of Russian citizens. Estonia and other countries that have a common border with Russia and Belarus are considering the possibility of establishing a visa ban at the national level or restricting Russian citizens with EU visas from crossing the border, — he said, emphasizing that Estonia would continue to receive Russians for humanitarian reasons and the opposition.
Earlier, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said that EU foreign ministers failed to agree on a general ban on issuing visas to Russians, which was advocated by the Baltic countries, the Czech Republic, Poland, Finland and the Netherlands. “As for the issue of visas, there was no unanimity on the introduction of a general ban on visas for Russians. <…> Many member countries opposed, including myself,— he said.
Can EU countries agree on new visa restrictions for Russians
Russia's Permanent Representative to the EU Vladimir Chizhov, commenting on the results of the meeting in Prague, called them compromise. “I think that this, as is usually the case in the EU, is a compromise between the positions of the most rabid member states, who demanded that they stop issuing visas to all Russian citizens and, moreover, annul previously issued visas, and those who adhere to a more sensible approach, although they also advocate continued sanctions pressure on Russia, — he said on the air of the Russia 24 TV channel. The diplomat added that so far the talks about a new package of sanctions against Russia are hypothetical, since the existing ones have turned out to be painful for the EU economy.
Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC) Andrey Kortunov, in a conversation with RBC, did not rule out the possibility of canceling Schengen visas previously issued to Russians, but doubted the possibility of agreeing on a complete ban on issuing visas to Russians. “Any country can revoke a visa it has issued. This is not a very common practice and is usually implemented on a case by case basis. A person must be seriously fined so that his visa is canceled at the border. If this happens automatically, it will definitely become an innovation in international practice. But now it might be. We have gone beyond the usual international relations, so we cannot completely exclude such options, — Kortunov said.
In his opinion, the issue of further tightening of visa rules for Russian citizens due to disagreements within the EU will be decided by individual countries “in accordance with their ideas about what needs to be done.” “Given that the Schengen area remains unified, this reduces the effectiveness of restrictive measures that can be taken on a national basis. If a country prohibits the entry of Russians into its territory on a Schengen visa, then it will be possible to obtain this visa in another country, there are no borders inside the Schengen zone, so these decisions are partially devalued, — he concluded.
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