prime minister Sanna Marin (SDP) has demanded an EU-wide decision to limit the access of Russian tourists to the Schengen countries.
The Prime Minister commented for the first time on an issue that has been discussed a lot in Finland in recent weeks.
“It is not right that while Russia is waging an aggressive, brutal war of aggression in Europe, Russians can live a normal life, travel in Europe, be tourists. It’s not right,” Marin told Yle.
Mari, whose summer vacation ended on Thursday, was interviewed by Yle on Tuesday in Kesäranta, Helsinki’s official residence.
The border between Finland and Russia opened for tourism in July, when both countries lifted the coronavirus restrictions.
Marin said that he hopes that the EU countries will decide on the matter together, because you can cross the Finnish border with a visa from any Schengen country.
The 26 Schengen countries include 22 EU countries and Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
In recent weeks, some have accused the government of ignoring the problem of Russian tourists. However, according to Marin, this did not happen, as the travel of Russians had been discussed at EU summits throughout the spring.
So far, the sanctions have not been extended to tourism. In Marini’s opinion, the discussion should be continued in the European Council.
"I believe that in future European Council meetings, this issue will come up even more strongly. My personal position is that tourism should be restricted, he said.
Finland could slow down the processing of Russian tourist visas
In the meantime, Finland can itself intervene in the situation by making it more difficult to get tourist visas as foreign minister Pekka Haavisto (Green) has proposed. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ view, the Schengen rules would give the Finnish authorities the opportunity to prioritize family, study or work visas over tourist visas for the time being.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday that many Russians who have received Finnish tourist visas only use Finland as a transit point for their holiday trips elsewhere.
According to Marin, the matter is currently being discussed in the government and investigations are being carried out to find out the legal basis for restricting entry into the country.
He added that it is essential to find out whether the legislation needs to be changed so that Finland can decide on its own national sanction in exceptional situations.
"Is Finnish legislation up-to-date enough so that we can introduce our own national sanctions in such a very exceptional situation? But I personally would like to see European solutions to this issue as well, Marin said.
Source: The Nordic Page