Talk to RTL News On Tuesday, Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra announced that the Dutch government supports the European Union’s controversial proposal to ban visas for Russian tourists.
Dutch government in favor of EU ban on tourist visas for Russians
While Hoekstra stressed that different rules should apply to visas for students and refugees, the Dutch foreign minister made it clear that the Netherlands would advocate against issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, saying that he disagreed that the rule would unfairly punish Russians. civilians for the ongoing war in Ukraine.
“On the one hand, you want people-to-people contact and you also want to recognize the difference between the state of Russia and Russian citizens,” Hoekstra explained to RTL News. “At the same time, we see that the vast majority of people who come here come to spend money in the PC Hooftstraat [in Amsterdam] are often wealthy Russians who are also regularly affiliated with the regime. »
Over the next few days, representatives from all EU member states – including Hoekstra – will meet in Prague to discuss the possible ban. The Dutch Foreign Minister hopes that he and his colleagues will reach an agreement: “[I hope] we can possibly leave after having agreed on a ban on tourist visas, without touching other visas.
Some EU member states say visiting Europe is a privilege, not a right
Some EU countries, including Czechia and Estonia, have already restricted Russia’s access to tourist visas. The Ukrainian government has called on the EU to block all Russian visa applications, arguing that “[Russians] should be denied the right to cross borders until they have learned to respect them. Likewise, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas believes that “visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right”.
While many have joined calls for an EU-wide ban, some of the bloc’s core members – notably Germany and France – are more hesitant. These member states fear the ban will further antagonize the Russian people and argue that the move would make it harder for Russian dissidents to flee Putin’s regime. The EU is also exploring options to make visa applications much more expensive for Russian citizens.
Figures from the European border agency Frontex reveal that almost a million Russians have arrived in the EU since the outbreak of war in late February. Interestingly, the data shows that the Netherlands has not issued any tourist visas to Russian citizens since April, which the foreign minister says is the result of a staff shortage.