Prague, Aug 31 (EFE).- European Union foreign ministers on Wednesday agreed to suspend a visa facilitation agreement with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.
While the measure will not ban Russians from obtaining 90-day visas for the Schengen area – the EU passport-free zone that covers most of Europe – it will make the process more difficult and more expensive, as well as extend the waiting time for approval.
The EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell made the announcement during a press conference at the end of a foreign ministers’ meeting in the Czech capital Prague.
“It is going to be more difficult, it’s going to be a longer process, consequently, the number of new visitors will be substantially reduced,” Borrell explained.
Borrel pointed out that the decision was taken in response to the significant increase in tourists from Russia since mid-July.
“We have seen many Russians traveling for leisure and shopping as if no war was raging in Ukraine,” he said.
He went on to say that visas would be issued one by one after a thorough examination of each individual case, indicating that the EU does not want to lose contact with those who are opposed to the war in Ukraine.
The foreign ministers also agreed that passports issued by Russian authorities in occupied areas of Ukraine will not be recognized in the 27 member states.
The suspension comes amid pressure from EU countries that share borders with Russia to ban Russian tourists from traveling to the bloc.EFE