Dutch Cabinet supports EU ban on tourist visas for Russians
This story was updated with additional information.
The Netherlands is in favor of a European Union ban against issuing tourist visas to Russian people. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the stance after it was reported by RTL Nieuws.
Such a ban will be discussed by the foreign ministers of EU Member States in the Czech capital of Prague on Wednesday. The chance that such a ban will come into effect remains unlikely. Several nations are against such a proposal, including Germany and France, in part because they do not want to stoke anti-European sentiment among ordinary Russian citizens.
While France and Germany are afraid of lashing out at ordinary Russians, the Netherlands is less concerned about that. A political insider said that, after all there is a war going on, and the EU will continue to take increasingly stricter punitive measures as long as Russia does not back down.
Foreign Affairs Minister Wopke Hoekstra told RTL Nieuws that he wants to continue to give visas to Russians in some cases, such as family visits or education, and for refugees. Coalition partner D66 has been an advocate of banning Russian tourists from the European Union for quite some time.
The Baltic States in particular have been pushing for the visa stop for Russians. Since Russia escalated its invasion of bordering country Ukraine on February 24, countries in the Baltic region have been calling for the toughest measures against the Kremlin. Moreover, they often serve as an intermediate gateway location for Russian tourists. Since airplanes cannot fly from Russia directly to the EU, Russian tourists instead try to fly to their destinations via European cities, such as Tallinn or Helsinki.
Russian citizens have not been able to apply for a short-stay visa at the Dutch embassy in Moscow since the end of April. That is because there are not enough diplomats to run the embassy's consular affairs department at full capacity. However, an exception is possible on serious humanitarian grounds.
Reporting by ANP