KAUNAS – The Baltic countries are finalizing a common agreement on restricting entry into the European Union (EU) for the Russian tourists holding Schengen visas, foreign policy chiefs of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have announced on Wednesday after a meeting of the Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) foreign ministers in Kaunas.
“The Baltic States have reached [an agreement] in principle,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told reporters.
Final decisions would be taken at the national level, he said adding that the countries involved would follow a uniform approach – to bar entry for Russian citizens irrespective of the country they had obtained their Schengen visas from.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said that this issue was likely to be resolved in the nearest time.
“I hope now it will be a matter of days, perhaps weeks,” he added.
The Lithuanian minister said that the precise date, from which the restrictions for Russian tourists would apply, was not yet clear due to decision-making differences in the countries involved.
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Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu stressed that the countries were coordinating individual national agreements, and not an international agreement.
Earlier reports said that the regional-level solution relating to Russian tourists would also involve Poland and Finland.
The Foreign Ministry told BNS that Warsaw stuck to its commitments and intended to participate in the common agreement with the Baltic countries on restricting the flow of Russian tourists.
Meanwhile, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said on Wednesday that Helsinki was waiting for a clarification from the European Commission as to whether the country could bar entry for the Russians holding Schengen visas issued by another country.
“We want to have legal clarification from the Commission,” he stated.
The countries of the region have taken a more stringent approach compared to the EU, which seems more inclined to agree on the suspension of its 2007 visa facilitation deal with Russia.