Estonian parliament member says ban on Russians with Schengen visas makes Tallinn look weak

Estonian parliament member says ban on Russians with Schengen visas makes Tallinn look weak

Yana Toom says that the ban on Russian holders of Estonia-issued Schengen visas makes Tallinn look a little weak-minded.

The Estonian government has imposed a ban on entry for Russians with Schengen visas issued by the Baltic nation makes Tallinn look a little weak-minded, said Yana Toom, a member of the Estonian Center Party.

As part of the sanctions against Russia over its offensive in Ukraine, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that visiting the bloc is a privilege and not a right for tourists, and urged the EU to ban Russians from receiving Schengen visas.

Starting next week, Tallinn will close its borders to Russian nationals with Schengen visas issued by the Baltic nation. The move was called absurd in an interview with Russian TV channel ETV Toom. The MEP stated that as Estonia cannot make decisions for the entire Schengen area and has no right to ban Russians with visas issued by other Schengen states, the only thing that Tallinn can do is to invalidate its own visas.

The MEP said that we are a bit weak-minded in this, but nevertheless this is the idea.

She said the Estonian authorities are trying to push through the European Council the idea of a total Schengen ban for Russia, but in her opinion, the idea is not pushable. I just can't figure out in my head how a ban on entry for Russians will restore peace in Ukraine, because there is a legislative definition of the sanctions regime. Toom said it just doesn't fit in my head.

The politician said she sees no logic in her government's push to kick out some groups of Russians living in Estonia by halting the issuance of residence permits.

A lot of people came to us. We say that we condemn Putin's regime, that you should not live there with this, and when people leave, we throw them back. The European Parliament member said that there was no explanation for such initiatives other than the politicians' desire to get more votes.

The MEP warned fellow Estonians of the retaliation they can expect from Moscow.

We will not get to Russia because of the fact that there will be reciprocity. She said that we are missing St Petersburg and the Hermitage, but we also have Pechory an area in Russia's Pskov region where many people own properties, homes that we can now say goodbye to.

On Thursday a UN spokesman for UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, when asked to comment on Tallinn's initiatives, told reporters that while countries have a right to implement their own visa policies, the UN is against discrimination.

Russia, Estonia, Finland and Poland have been skeptical of the idea despite numerous calls from Ukraine, Estonia, Finland and Poland to impose a EU tourist visa ban on Russians, Germany and EU officials. Germany's chancellor Olaf Scholz cited the very far-reaching sanctions imposed on Russia and said that a visa ban would weaken their effectiveness if it was directed against everyone, including innocent people. A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that a ban would be unlawful, as each application must be considered individually.