Scholz on Russia tourist visa ban: Nein!

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he does not support an EU-wide travel ban for Russian citizens.

“This is not the war of the Russian people, but it is [Vladimir] Putin’s war,” Scholz said during a press conference Monday in Oslo.

He added that “it is important to us to understand that there are a lot of people fleeing from Russia, because they are disagreeing with the Russian regime.”

In the same press conference, the prime ministers of Finland and Denmark, Sanna Marin and Mette Frederiksen, said that a visa ban should be discussed at the EU level. Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson said her government had not yet made up its mind on the issue.

Marin told reporters that “it is not a black or white question, there are shades of grey,” and that she is pushing for a coordinated EU-wide approach.

The issue is increasingly dividing EU countries, as Ukraine continues to demand a ban. The Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and Poland have stopped issuing certain visas for Russians, with Tallinn even announcing last Thursday that Russians with Estonian-issued Schengen visas will not be allowed to enter the country.

Scholz has previously raised doubts about the effectiveness of the tool, arguing that a blanket ban on everyone would undermine the purpose and effect of targeted sanctions that have been applied to those supporting the war.

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský said last week he wanted to raise the issue at the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague at the end of August.

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