Researcher: In this way, Finland could stop shopping tourism by Russians

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Saila Heinikoski, a senior researcher at the Foreign Policy Institute, says that the Baltic countries have been able to stop issuing tourist visas to Russians citing the security argument. suomi-voisi-stoppetta-venaumllaumlisten-ostosmatkailun-7b3d9ce.jpg” alt=”Researcher: This is how Finland could stop Russian shopping tourism” />

Border traffic in Vaalimaa opened after the corona lockdown in mid-July. The photo shows traffic arriving in Finland from Russia. Jarmo SipiläYesterday at 18:02

Finland has so far not stopped issuing tourist visas to Russians, although the shopping trips of the citizens of a country waging a war of aggression are widely irritating and politically there is widespread support for a visa ban.

Finland's line is justified by the fact that they would like an EU-level decision on the visa issue. The Schengen countries have a common visa policy that binds Finland and the other member states.

The desire to put pressure on Russia, like sanctions, is not enough within the framework of EU rules to justify denying visas.

– Such a point cannot be found in the common visa regulations, says Juho Pesonen, professor of tourism business at the University of Eastern Finland.

Can be circumvented

However, the EU legislation can be circumvented, as the Baltic countries have done. A visa can be refused if its issuance is deemed to endanger public order, national security or international relations.

– In countries where the issuance of tourist visas is limited, the decision is based on a security argument, which is made possible by EU legislation, the Foreign Policy the institute's senior researcher Saila Heinikoski says.

In order for Finland to stop issuing visas to Russian tourists without new EU-level guidelines, a new interpretation of the situation should be adopted.

– If Finland interprets that tourist visas do not pose a security threat For Finland, there is no reason to stop issuing visas, says Heinikoski.

However, he believes that it is more about formalities. According to Heinikoski, in practice the member states are quite free to define who can enter the country.

– It is the core area of ​​the sovereignty of the member states.

An old problem

The Schengen system is integrated into the European Union. Finland signed the Schengen agreement in 1996 and it was ratified in 2001.

The countries of the region should at least follow the visa regulations that bind them all, because a Schengen visa for one country opens access to all other countries in the region.

Even though the Baltic States have closed their borders to Russian tourists for security reasons, they can still get to Estonia via Finland, for example. Finland acts as a gateway to Europe.

In the question of tourist visas for Russians, Finland seems to be stubbornly acting on the basis of common visa guidelines, but at the same time detracting from the solutions of other countries.

According to Heinikoski, throughout the history of the Schengen area, it has been discussed that the decisions of one member state affect everyone.

– It is a problem related to the Schengen area that if one country acts differently than the others, so it takes away from the actions of other countries.

Pressure or not

The continuation of issuing tourist visas in Finland is also justified by the fact that actions against Russia, which is waging a war of aggression do not want to target ordinary people.

– The argument is also true that if those who are already critical of Russia's actions get to travel and get information about, for example, Russian war crimes, it can increase pressure or dissatisfaction, Heinikoski reflects.

However, there is another side to the matter.

– On the other hand, it can be thought that this enables a normal life for Russians and enables them to buy products that can be obtained from Russia. Then it can be considered to weaken the effectiveness of the sanctions.

Not a big effect

The possible prevention of the entry of Russian tourists has also been considered in some speeches to be harmful, especially for Eastern Finland for tourism business.

Professor of tourism business Juho Pesonen does not see that the visa ban will cause any great harm to companies. The borders for Russian tourists opened only very recently after the corona restrictions.

– It would not be a disaster for Eastern Finland. Companies have been in this new normal for more than two years without Russian tourists.

Pesonen admits that there could be negative consequences for individual companies and individuals.

– In the same way that the corona restrictions were compensated for companies, perhaps the loss of income caused by visa restrictions could also be compensated with some logic and help companies divert resources away from the Russian market, as many have already done. : this is how Tulli answers on 26.7. 20:02 Editorial: Finland cannot be a holiday and shopping paradise for Russians, nor a transit country 26.7. 13:25 More than 10,000 Russians received visas to Finland in July – this is how the Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds to criticism about tourists on July 25. 19:01 Kremlin: Russia would react negatively if Finland stopped issuing visas on July 26. 15:23

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