Some members of the European Union propose to introduce a complete tourist blockade for Russian travelers. We are talking about a persistent proposal to stop issuing Schengen visas to Russians, i.e. close access to our compatriots in 26 European countries. Poland is lobbying the issue.
According to the statement of Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki at a press conference in Warsaw on April 4, within the framework of the sanctions imposed due to the ongoing special operation of Russia in Ukraine, it is necessary to hit our country even more painfully – to close the visa departments and not let Russian tourists into the Schengen countries .
“Tough sanctions should be imposed on Russian society. A ban on issuing visas to Russians, except for humanitarian ones,” the official diluted his speech with such harsh phrases.
Although for our compatriots the offer of the Polish Prime Minister is not new: several countries of the Schengen zone have already stopped issuing visas for Russian citizens after the events around Ukraine. This step was predicted on February 25 by Russia's permanent representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov. According to him, all member states can stop issuing Schengen visas to Russians as part of the sanctions imposed against Russia, including tourist, work and student visas. Some countries did just that:
- For example, the Czech authorities have already stopped issuing visas to Russians, except for humanitarian cases. “We are suspending the processing of visa applications from Russian citizens in all our consular offices, except for humanitarian cases,” Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala said at the time.
- Similar steps were taken by Lithuania.
- Estonia did the same. The authorities expelled several Russian officials from their territory who worked with Russian embassies and conveyed the true meaning of Russia's special operation in Ukraine. On March 18, the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a diplomatic note to the Russian Ambassador to Estonia, in which it said that three employees of the Russian embassy were declared persona non grata in Estonia and they had 72 hours to leave the country.
- Latvia did not stayed away. On the same day, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics declared three employees of the Russian embassy in Tallinn persona non grata in Latvia, ordering them to leave the country by March 23.
Russians account for the largest number of Schengen visas applied in the world. According to open statistics, in the pre-COVID 2019 alone, 4,133,100 visa applications were submitted to the Schengen embassies and consulates in Russia out of a total of 16,955,541 submitted worldwide, which is 24.3% of the total number of applications.
< p>For comparison: in 2019, the embassies and consulates of the Schengen countries in Russia received 11.8% more applications than in 2018, and 6.3% more than in 2016.
Against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic and the closure of embassies and consulates for this reason, the number of applications for Schengen visas filed in Russia fell sharply by 84 percent. So, in 2020, only 653,764 applications were submitted. Likewise, the number of Schengen visa applications in the same year also dropped worldwide to 2,924,365, compared to nearly 17 million applications that were made in pre-pandemic 2019.
However, now that the time has come for European tourism to recover from the “covid” downtime, European countries are being offered to voluntarily abandon the stable Russian tourist flow, and their absence will certainly affect the tourism business in Europe. This has already been felt by the Cypriot authorities, who hastily fill in the formed “hole” from the Russian tourist flow (details here), and Spain – read the details in the article “Spain invites Russian tourists to return to the coast.”
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