Dutch cabinet backs EU ban on tourist visas for Russians

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The Netherlands supports a European Union ban on issuing tourist visas to Russians. A spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed this position after it was reported by RTL Nieuws.

Such a ban will be discussed by EU member state foreign ministers in the Czech capital Prague on Wednesday. The likelihood of such a ban coming into effect remains unlikely. Several nations are against such a proposal, including Germany and France, in part because they do not want to stir up anti-European sentiment among ordinary Russian citizens.

While France and Germany are afraid to go after ordinary Russians, the Netherlands care less. A political insider said that after all there is a war going on and the EU will continue to take ever stricter punitive measures until Russia backs down.

Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra told RTL Nieuws that he wanted to continue granting visas to Russians in certain cases, such as family visits or education, and for refugees. Coalition partner D66 has been advocating banning Russian tourists from the European Union for some time.

The Baltic states in particular have lobbied to stop visas for Russians. Since Russia stepped up its invasion of neighboring Ukraine on February 24, countries in the Baltic region have called for the toughest measures against the Kremlin. Moreover, they often serve as an intermediate gateway for Russian tourists. Since airplanes cannot fly directly from Russia to the EU, Russian tourists instead try to fly to their destinations via European cities, such as Tallinn or Helsinki.

Russian citizens can no longer apply for a short-stay visa at the Dutch embassy in Moscow since the end of April. This is because there are not enough diplomats to operate the consular affairs department of the embassy at full capacity. However, an exception is possible for serious humanitarian reasons.

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