Sony Neme, Asaba
“We should think about smart ways to make use of the important lever of the issuing of visas,” reads a position paper sent to other EU member states ahead of a foreign ministers’ meeting.
The meeting is taking place in Prague on Tuesday and Wednesday.
While accepting that visa applications made by Russian citizens should be closely scrutinised for potential security risks, the paper also warned against underestimating.
“The transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems at first-hand.
“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,” the paper continues.
The paper made the argument for maintaining the current legal framework allowing students, artists, scientists and other key professionals to enter the EU – irrespective of whether they personally faced political persecution in Russia.
It warned against comprehensive restrictions on issuing visas and stresses the importance of not alienating future generations of Russians.
The paper added that a ban could lead to a rise in nationalist and anti-European sentiment in Russia.
The German-French position paper came in response to an ongoing debate among EU governments about whether Russians should be granted EU visa.
The debate is on whether Russia should be prevented from travelling to the bloc for leisure purposes while people continue to die in Ukraine as a direct result of the Russian invasion