1 Sep 2022 16:43

Estonian PM says will seek full ban on entry by Russians, Belarusians into EU

TALLINN. Sept 1 (Interfax) - Estonia will continue seeking a full visa ban on citizens of Russia and Belarus in the European Union, Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Kallas told reporters on Thursday.

"I am happy that the EU countries have decided to scrap the visa facilitation agreement, but it's not enough. We will continue working to achieve a common European decision. The foreign ministers [at the informal meeting in Prague on August 31] did not agree on that, but this issue will be discussed in the meeting between the heads of states and governments," Kallas said.

She explained Estonia's persistence by the fact that the European security support system needs additional efforts to check all arriving people now that flights between Russia and the EU countries have been cancelled and the pressure is primarily on the states bordering Russia, in particular, Estonia and Finland. More than 60% of Russian tourists now visit Europe through Estonia and Finland, she said.

Repeating that "travel is a privilege, not a right," Kallas said that "we will weigh with the other border states the introduction of a visa ban on a state level" until the EU countries reach a consensus on entry restrictions on Russians and Belarusians.

The decision to freeze the visa facilitation agreement between the EU and Russia was earlier approved at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague.