Estonian PM urges Schengen countries not to issue tourist visas to Russians

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Estonian PM urges Schengen countries not to issue tourist visas to Russians

Members of the Schengen zone should not issue tourist visas to Russians, Estonia s PM has insisted.

Estonian prime minister Kaja Kallas has urged the countries of Schengen to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens.

Tourist visas are not being issued to Russians. On Tuesday, Kallas wrote on Twitter that visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right. She was apparently unaware that about 75% of Russia's population is already on the continent.

She wrote that the EU has suspended air travel from Russia after Moscow launched its military operation in Ukraine in late February, but Schengen Area countries have continued to issue visas to Russians.

The burden has been put on the shoulders of Estonia, Latvia and Finland, which border Russia, as sole access points into the bloc for Russian citizens, Kallas explained, ignoring Poland and Lithuania, and that it was time to end tourism from Russia now. The Schengen agreement allows for border-free travel among 26 European countries. These include most EU member states, with the exceptions of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Romania and Ireland. Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland are non-EU countries in the pact.

The Estonian prime minister spokesman called for all Russians to be banned from traveling to the West for at least a year, following a call by Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky.

The most important sanctions are to close the borders because the Russians are taking away someone else's land, Zelensky told the Washington Post on Monday. He said that the Russians should live in their own world until they change their philosophy.

Last week, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told Bloomberg that the Baltic state wanted to see an EU-wide travel visa ban on Russian citizens in the next round of the bloc's sanctions on Moscow.

Reinsalu made remarks while he was in Kiev, where he said the idea had been discussed with Zelensky.

Estonia has a strong support for Ukraine during its conflict with Russia, advocating for a tougher sanctions on Moscow by the EU.

Shortly after the outbreak of the fighting, Tallinn stopped issuing visas for Russians. Estonia can't prevent Russian citizens from entering the EU if they have a visa issued by another EU member state.

A number of other EU nations like Lithuania, Latvia, Poland and Czech Republic have also imposed visa restrictions, but an EU-wide ban would require the approval of all 27 of the bloc's 27 members.