Germany and France have issued a joint warning against a ban on tourist visas for Russians, saying such a step, advocated by other European Union member states, would be counter-productive.
The split on tourist visas will be at the heart of a meeting of the bloc’s foreign ministers in Prague on Tuesday and Wednesday, as they discuss what further steps they can take to sanction Russia for its six-month old invasion of Ukraine.
“We caution against far-reaching restrictions on our visa policy, in order to prevent feeding the Russian narrative and trigger unintended rallying-around the flag effects and/or estranging future generations,” France and Germany said in the joint memo seen by Reuters
The bloc’s two leading countries argue for close scrutiny of visa applications for security risks, but believe visas should still be issued.
“We must not give up on supporting pro-democratic elements with Russian society,” they said. “Our visa policies should reflect that and continue to allow for people to people contacts in the EU with Russian nationals not linked to the Russian government.
“We should not underestimate the transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems at first-hand, especially for future generations,” they added.