The Association of Tour Operators in Russia (ATOR) says it is feeling the impact of the European Commission’s stricter visa processing conditions for Russian citizens, as nine European countries “no longer accept documents from tourists”.
Last Friday, the European Union (EU) decided suspend visa facilitation agreement with RussiaThis has made it difficult for Russians to travel in Europe.
“The Visa Facilitation Agreement with the Russian Federation has been suspended. This means that Russian citizens will receive a Schengen visa under the general terms of the EU Visa Code,” ATOR wrote about them. Website Tuesday
ATOR describes itself as the largest association of tour operators in Russia.
According to tour operators, the list of EU countries that have so far issued and continue to accept documents for visas for tourist visits includes Italy, Spain, Greece, France, Hungary and Cyprus. Specifically, the visas being granted are national visas – not Schengen ones, which allow a tourist to visit other European countries as well.
“Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands no longer accept documents from tourists,” it claimed.
In response, the European Commission referred CNN to their visa guidelines, which were posted online last Friday. The guidelines outline how short-term visa applications filed by Russian nationals should now be processed.
European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson said last Friday that “being a tourist in the EU is not a fundamental right.”
“Member States are advised to thoroughly and to a great level scrutinize visa applications from Russian nationals. Visas should be refused where consulates identify security risks,” she continued.
“The EU will remain open to those who need to be protected, such as journalists, dissidents, human rights activists and people traveling for family reasons,” Johansson said.
Consulates are able to “optimize their procedures” according to the guidelines and are allowed to take “up to 45 days” in deciding Russian tourist visa applications, as opposed to “15 days in regular cases”.
“Member states should refrain from issuing multiple-entry visas with long validity, as Russian citizens may not meet the conditions to enter the EU in the long run, given the economic instability, restrictive measures and political developments in Russia. Done,” add new guidelines.
at the start of september The Czech Republic and Latvia had already begun taking measures to restrict Russian travel, while Estonia banned Russians who already had visas to enter the country.
CNN contacted the foreign affairs ministries of the Netherlands, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Denmark and Belgium, and they have not yet responded to requests for comment.