The Foreign Minister of Finland on Thursday has presented a plan for putting a stop at tourist visas issued to Russians after increasing tourism from its eastern neighbour spurred because of the full-scale war in Ukraine.
Amid the flight services from Russia to the European Union have been paused, Finland has become a transit nation for many Russians seeking to travel further into Europe.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said, “Many saw this as a circumvention of the sanctions regime.”
Finland is looking to seek NATO membership after political and popular support for the alliance soared following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, but the Nordic country remains Russia’s only EU neighbour without restrictions on tourist visas for Russian citizens.
Although the Schengen regime and Finnish law do not allow for an outright ban on visas based on nationality, Finland can reduce visa numbers issued based on category, Haavisto noted.
“Tourism category can be restricted in the terms of how many visas can be applied for in a day,” Haavisto said.
Finland’s foreign ministry on Thursday presented a proposal to the government that would allow Finland to “give preference” to groups like family members and students while reducing tourist visas.
Although the government gave the “green light” to continue preparations, Haavisto said he believed the final decision to adopt it could be taken by the end of the month.
As many travelers enter Finland with visas issued by another Schengen country, Haavisto emphasized the need for an EU-level decision on the matter.
Finland intends to raise the issue at the next meeting of EU foreign affairs ministers in the Czech Republic on August 30.
“Otherwise it can happen that when one country reduces visa numbers, another country might increase,” Haavisto said.