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    Full suspension of EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement

    EU foreign ministers have decided to fully suspend the 2007 EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement. In practice, this means that the number of new visas will be significantly reduced and the process of obtaining them will take longer.

    High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said after a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Prague that a full suspension of the visa facilitation agreement with Russia had been agreed.

     

    “We have seen a substantial increase of border crossings from Russia into neighbouring states. This is becoming a security risk. We, therefore, agree today with EU Foreign Ministers on Full Suspension of the EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement,” Josep Borrell wrote on Twitter. 

     

     

    “Because of the support of the criminal policy of the Russian authorities by a large part of the population of that country, it is urgently necessary for all Member States to stop issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens,” Minister Rau pointed out at the informal meeting of EU Member States’ foreign ministers in the Gymnich format, held in Prague on 30-31 August. The ministers also met with the heads of diplomacy of Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.

     

    However, the agreement does not mean a complete visa ban for Russian citizens. Several member states, including Germany, France, and Hungary, have spoken out against such a solution.

     

    What is more, Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib also said that her country does not want “total isolation of Russians.”

     

    As the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, the five EU countries bordering Russia – Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – threatened in a joint statement to adopt “national measures” to reduce the number of Russians entering if the EU did not agree on a common approach. The letter noted that the suspension of the 2007 EU-Russia visa facilitation agreement was a “necessary first step,” but that would not deter the governments of the five countries from seeking tougher measures to limit the number of Russians entering these countries.

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