Sunday, December 3, 2023

Finland to reduce visas granted to Russian tourists

From 1er September, Finland tightens the screws vis-a-vis the Russian citizens. Due to growing discontent in the Nordic country over the war in Ukraine, the Finnish government has announced a 10% cut in the number of visas issued to Russian tourists.

“It is not normal that Russian citizens can enter Europe, the Schengen area, be tourists (…) while Russia is killing people in Ukraine. This is not normal,” Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin insisted on Monday.

Russian travelers have been flocking since Moscow ended Covid-related restrictions on international travel on July 15. Every day, Finland processes nearly 1,000 visa applications from Russia, according to Pekka Haavisto, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

In the heart of summer, many Russian nationals pass through Helsinki-Vantaa airport to reach tourist destinations in Europe. This is “not very appropriate given the European air restrictions against Russia”, he stressed, adding that “tourist visas are not going to stop completely, but their number will decrease significantly significant”.

Reduce without banning

The government mentions in particular a reduction in the opening hours allocated to the application for tourist visas in order to cause a drop in demand. In practice, a pure and simple ban on visas based on nationality is not possible.

The head of Finnish diplomacy explained that priority would be given to “other types of visas: visits to relatives, family contacts, work, studies”. The introduction of a new specific category of humanitarian visa, unprecedented in the country, is also envisaged.

Finland and the Baltic countries are soon to raise the question, with the EU, of stopping the European agreement with Russia on visa facilitation. A decision that could drive up the price of tourist visas, from 35 to 80 euros.


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