TALLINN The entry ban that started on Monday has clearly been known to Russian tourists.
The Estonian Police and Border Agency told that during the first day and a half, slightly more than twenty tourists who were trying to enter the EU were turned away from the border stations.
In Lithuania, the number was according to the country’s broadcasting company (you switch to another service) 26 conversions per day.
According to unconfirmed information, only three Russian tourists have been turned away from the Latvian border during the first day.
The Baltic countries and Poland prevent Russians from entering the country with jointly agreed, but nationally made decisions. You cannot even cross the border with a visa issued by another EU or Schengen country.
Finland, on the other hand, has not denied entry to Russian tourists or stopped issuing tourist visas. Finland has justified its policy by saying that there is no legal basis for a complete ban. Instead visa processing is limited (you switch to another service).
And how does the solo EU four themselves see the situation? Are deviations from the Schengen rules not a concern at all? And does the entry ban now mean turning away all Russians, including dissidents and those living in the West, from the borders?
1. The entry ban for Russian tourists is justified on ethical grounds
Politicians from the Baltic countries have repeatedly insisted that allowing Russian tourists to Europe is ethically wrong.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu commented on the matter to in August, saying that the tax funds of so-called ordinary Russians are used to pay for the weapons that mutilate Ukrainian children.
According to Kaja Kallas, the Prime Minister of Estonia, leisure trips to Europe are not a human right, but an advantage that does not belong to the citizens of a country waging a war of aggression.
The prime ministers of the Baltic countries and Poland also emphasized the same in his recent statement (you will switch to another service).
2. Legally, the decision is based on national security and public order
Although Russia’s four border neighbors agreed on the tourist ban, each country decided on the matter by applying its own legislation.
The decree of the Estonian government that has taken over relies on the national border of Estonia, for example to section 17 of the Act on (you switch to another service).
According to it, the government can limit or prevent border crossings in order to maintain national security or public order and to protect public health.
On the other hand, the entry ban for Russian tourists in Lithuania implemented through the State of Emergency Act (transfers to another service). Lithuania declared a state of emergency on its border with Belarus after Belarus started using migrants trying to reach Europe as weapons.
After Russia invaded Ukraine, Lithuania extended the state of emergency.
The entry ban for tourists has been implemented without revoking their visas. The visas remain valid, but their holders are prevented from entering the country.
3. The Schengen rules are deviated from by referring to Finland’s corona measures
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland has criticized the actions of Estonia and other countries that joined the entry ban. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has considered the line of the four to be legally questionable, according to a memo obtained by .
In Estonia, criticism is answered by referring to the corona era. Several EU and Schengen countries maintained long national entry restrictions during the pandemic, even at the internal borders of the EU and the Schengen area. Finland among others.
– Finland enacted entry restrictions for all Estonians within the framework of the rule of law. Part of the Schengen area was closed to us against all the rules, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas commented to via text message.
Finland’s policy during the pandemic has thus encouraged Estonia and other Baltic countries as well as Poland to test the limits of the Schengen rules. The countries feel that the war of aggression waged by Russia in Ukraine and the hybrid war throughout Europe is as exceptional a situation as the corona era.
4. The ban on the entry of tourists does not mean the conversion of all Russians
By no means all border crossers are tourists. According to the Estonian Police and Border Agency, the majority of Russian citizens crossing the border are traveling with a residence permit issued by an EU or Schengen country. They still get to continue the journey.
About a thousand people a day cross the Estonian border with a residence permit alone, said Marek Liiva, head of the border station in Narva For Estonian Public Broadcasting (you switch to another service).
The border boom also opens in the case that the visa has been granted to visit a close relative. In addition, diplomats and freight forwarders can enter the EU area freely.
5. What the heck is a humanitarian visa?
Although Estonia has basically stopped issuing all new visas to Russians, it makes exceptions with so-called humanitarian visas.
The term can cause confusion, because the humanitarian visa that made headlines in Finland is different from the Estonian one. In Finland, the government has decided to explore the possibility of helping human rights defenders, members of civil society and critical journalists in Russia with a new type of visa.
is told by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia that the grounds for granting a humanitarian visa are multifaceted. You can get it, for example, because of a severe illness that requires treatment in Estonia. Important family events such as weddings or funerals are also an acceptable reason.
If necessary, Estonia’s version of the humanitarian visa also opens a route to the West for dissidents fleeing Russia to seek asylum. However, all visa holders must be able to prove the purpose of their trip.
went to ask the Russian speakers they met in Tallinn about the tourist ban. You can watch them in the video attached to the article.
What do you think about the decisions of the Baltic countries and Poland? You can discuss the matter until 11 pm tomorrow night.
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