Borrell: 2007 visa facilitation deal with Russia to be suspended

The EU countries have agreed to suspend the 2007 visa facilitation deal with Russia, Josep Borrell, EU’s High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy confirmed during a press conference in Prague after a meeting with foreign ministries of the Union countries.

Borrell said the agreement will significantly reduce the number of visas issued by EU member states, making the process “longer and more difficult”. There will, however, be no complete ban for Russian nationals. “We have seen a substantial increase of border crossings from Russia into neighbouring states. This is becoming a security risk,” he wrote on his Twitter.

In a concession to eastern EU members who had pushed for a tougher approach, Borrell said that countries bordering Russia “can take measures at a national level to restrict entry into the European Union”. The European Commission is now expected to prepare guidelines on what EU member states may do with the already issued visas.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock proposed to suspend the European Union's visa facilitation agreement with Russia and the issuance of multi-year visas to Russians yesterday “as a compromise solution.” She also stressed out that those who “have the courage to stand against Putin’s regime” should have the opportunity to leave Russia, meaning not only famous politicians and journalists, but also students.

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‘What next? Deporting anyone who speaks Russian?’

An expert in international law offers his take on the issue of collective responsibility and proposed visa ban for Russians

According to Bloomberg, France and Germany reckon that EU should continue to issue visas to Russians not affiliated with the government — particularly students, artists, scholars and professionals — even as countries neighbouring Russia, including the Baltic nations and Finland, want the bloc to ban Russian tourists. “While understanding the concerns of some member states in this context, we should not underestimate the transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems first-hand, especially for future generations,” France and Germany wrote in a document seen by Bloomberg ahead of next week’s gathering of EU foreign ministers in Prague.

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