Finland explains border closure for Russian tourists


Helsinki says surge in Russians arriving amid partial mobilization ‘puts Finland at risk’

Russian citizens holding a Schengen tourist visa will be refused entry to Finland from midnight on Thursday evening, the government has announced.

The authorities decided to “significantly restrict the entry of Russian tourists to Finland”, the statement said, adding that Schengen rules allow nations to make such decisions when “International relations and security are taken into account.

According to Helsinki, “the increasing number of tourists arriving in Finland” since the announcement of a partial mobilization by Russian President Vladimir Putin last week, “endanger Finland’s international position and international relations.”

“The resolution aims to completely halt tourism and related transit from Russia,” the statement said, adding that the number of visa applications Finnish consular staff can process in Russia will be “drastically” limit.

Only those deemed eligible for humanitarian visas will be allowed to enter Finland after the restrictions come into effect. The Nordic nation will also allow Russians in if such a move serves its “national interests” or would be linked to Finland’s international obligations, he said.

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EU country calls for tougher Russian visa restrictions

Finland has become one of the fiercest opponents of the entry of Russian tourists into the Schengen area. In September, Helsinki asked Brussels to allow EU countries refusing entry to Russians to revoke their visas, thereby preventing people from entering the bloc through the territory of another member state.

He also suggested including tourist visa restrictions on an anti-Russian sanctions list at a September meeting of EU foreign ministers. Finland, which shares a long land border with Russia, already has a mechanism in place that allows it to deny visas to Russians and deny entry to those who already have them.

The EU suspended a visa facilitation agreement with Russia in September. Some Member States have also stopped issuing tourist and business visas. The three Baltic states and Poland announced earlier that they would deny entry to Russian citizens with valid Schengen visas issued by other countries.

Finland stressed that it does not consider Russian tourists as a “security threat” but Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto argued that “a moral and ethical principle [is] involved,” pointing to the military conflict in Ukraine.

Visa restrictions for Russians have already drawn criticism from the UN, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres saying so “may not be a good idea.”


RT

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