Aug 15, 2022
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Maria Zakharova: By depriving Russians of the “privilege” to visit EU countries, Europeans will lose the privilege of living in warmth and with hot water

In the photo: Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.

In the photo: Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova. (Photo: Valery Sharifulin/TASS)

A number of countries in Europe, mainly in Eastern Europe, are calling for the termination of the issuance of Schengen visas to Russians. The corresponding concept for the EU has already begun to be developed in Poland, as announced by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic Perth Wawrzyk in an interview with RAP.

Earlier, the German government submitted for discussion a draft EU decision to ban the issuance of Schengen visas to Russians as part of the next sanctions package. President of Ukraine called for closing the borders of the European Union Vladimir Zelenskyhe was supported by the Prime Minister of Estonia Where is Callas?

“Visiting Europe is a privilege, not a human right,” the head of the Estonian Cabinet is sure.

Having exhausted, apparently, the possibilities to harm the leadership and business of Russia, in Europe they decided in one fell swoop to impose sanctions against all Russians, from babies to the elderly. However, sooner or later, democratic Europeans had to come to this. In the forefront of anti-Russian ideas, according to an already established tradition, were the Baltic countries. True, if the Russians have long been accustomed to the Polish-Lithuanian-Latvian-Estonian Russophobic attacks, then Finland, which has joined the Baltic states and is preparing to introduce restrictions on the issuance of Schengen to Russians, was somewhat surprised.

Warsaw is already negotiating with a number of European countries, where they support the idea of ​​restricting the visa regime for Russians, but they state that not everyone in the European Union likes it. Such extremes are opposed by large countries, including Germany and France.

“Due to the fact that it is impossible to break the resistance of these states in order to suspend the visa facilitation agreement for Russian citizens, the Republic of Poland is working on a new solution,” said the deputy head of the Polish Foreign Ministry.

Mr. Wawrzyk also reminded that Poland has already restricted the issuance of visas, so Russian tourists are unlikely to get acquainted with Polish sights in the near future. However, the number of tourists to European countries as a whole has already decreased due to the pandemic, sanctions, rising prices, and difficulties with logistics.

“This year, due to the current political situation in the world and the introduction of restrictive measures by the EU against Russia, the flow of tourists to this region has been critically reduced. At the moment, the number of applications is estimated as a single one relative to booking volumes for the same period in 2021 and 2019,” the press service of the Tez Tour tour operator explained.

Russia hopes that the EU will show sobriety in the visa issue. Permanent Representative of Russia to the European Union Vladimir Chizhov called such ideas nonsense.

“As for the closure of borders for people holding Schengen visas that the same country has issued, well, this is simply, from a diplomatic point of view, complete nonsense,” he said.

Official representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Maria Zakharovain turn, explained to the Europeans what a privilege is.

“To the question of what is a “privilege” in the understanding of Europeans in fact – to wash, warm up and air out,” she wrote in her Telegram channel.

And these privileges are clearly more important than the opportunity to relax in the resorts of Spain or Greece, which, in the event of a decision on restrictions or a ban on Schengen visas for Russians, may completely lose tourists from Russia, and with them the income from this significant line of business.

Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Political Elites, Institute for International Studies, MGIMO, Ph.D. Ivan Loshkarev noted that under international law there is freedom to leave the state, but there is no freedom to enter.

– Any country can respond and regulate the issues of entry into its territory. There is a single Schengen area, in this case, all Europeans must decide.

Some states have already stopped issuing visas, including the Baltic countries and Poland.

“SP”: – How can Russia respond?

– The flow of people entering Russia from the EU countries last year and at the beginning of this year was noticeably lower than vice versa. I do not think that mirror measures will allow for a comparable and proportionate response. Rather, we will talk about some kind of asymmetric measures. Maybe close the remaining diplomatic channels, reduce the representation of European cultural organizations in Russia.

In general, the situation is strange. For the last 30 years, we have been talking about globalization – they say, it is becoming easier to move, how different it is from the old, archaic times, and that, probably, a return there is no longer expected. And now we are back there – in the world of tight border control, restrictions on movement, in a world where basic things, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are again being questioned.

“SP”: – The right to freedom of movement is considered inalienable and enshrined in international documents. Why, then, in Europe, talking about democracy and human rights, do ideas arise about its limitation?

– The history of human rights was especially rapidly moving forward during the Cold War. When we had a dialogue with the West, and all this ended with the signing of the Helsinki Act of 1975, there was the so-called third package, within which these legal norms were fixed. There was a lot about relocation, family reunions etc. This was actively promoted during the years of the Cold War and lasted for some time after it, but this rule-making inertia, apparently, ended after 30 years of a new period in our history.

Now this human rights rhetoric does not work so much, the West is retreating from it and is trying not to refer to it in its own practice.

“SP”: – What is the likelihood that the EU will support the idea of ​​banning or restricting the issuance of visas for Russians?

– So far, quite harshly, if I remember correctly, the chancellor spoke out Olaf Scholz. Others try not to raise the issue.

It seems to me that the chances are 50/50. If we have serious successes in Ukraine, then, of course, the Western countries will feel the need to somehow react, to take at least some measures, given that they can not do much. If there is a situation of slow, not very noticeable progress, then in the short term the chances will noticeably decrease, it will be at the level of talk.

“SP”: – I understand correctly, Poland is once again trying to lead the Russophobic camp? How successful?

– Over the past five years, Poland has really begun to argue a lot from the position of anti-Russia – the maximum opposition to Moscow in any area: cultural, economic, political. If there is an opportunity to do something as harmful as possible, negative for the image of Russia, then the current Polish leadership chooses precisely this line. This is enshrined in their strategic documents – Russia is seen as a threat not only to the security of Poland, but also to democracy in all European countries. Accordingly, they are fighting this threat as best they can, protecting themselves from it as much as possible, trying to deny our positive achievements. This is the logic of anti-Russian positioning, the maximum separation from Russia.

Poland has been discussing for a long time on what basis it can lead the processes in Central Europe or, as they said, New Eastern Europe. There were many ideas. One of them was to build a new dialogue with Russia, the other was that it should be limited to the Visegrad Group (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia). Since 2016, they have been building the Troemoire – a project of economic and transport and logistics integration from Croatia to the Baltic states, and, of course, in the current circumstances, this project implies not only the leadership of Poland, but also leadership in the removal from Russia, the formation of a kind of new cordon sanitaire, which for years a hundred years ago he tried to form the West – then in the person of France, first of all.

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