Better nothing than a half-baked solution. Kuleba was not satisfied with the conclusions of the Prague negotiations

“I made it clear that Ukraine will no longer accept any half-assed solutions. Freezing the facilitation agreement is a half-hearted solution,” said Kuleb, who was not pleased with the ministers’ resolution. “However, I assume that this is not the final solution,” he added.

At the Congress Center in Prague, EU foreign ministers, presided over by the head of EU diplomacy, Josep Borrell, adopted only political resolutions, not formal agreements. Nevertheless, the freezing of the visa agreement from 2007, which gave Russian tourists certain advantages, is already being considered.

“The facilitation agreement (of 2007) has certain prerequisites for it to exist, which is that we want to have friendly relations between the European Union and Russia. There is no such political reality today,” said Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský (Pirates).

Visas for Russians will only become more expensive. EU ministers did not agree on a blanket ban

The war in Ukraine

The heads of EU diplomacy at least recognized that each state can take its own measures on the issue of Russian visas. Apparently, they reacted to the joint statement of the five eastern states (the Baltics, Poland and Finland), which announced before the meeting that if the Union did not agree on a blanket ban, they would introduce it themselves.

Photo: Kateřina Šulová, CTK

Joint photo from the final day of the informal meeting of EU foreign ministers. August 31, 2022, Prague

“There has been some concern about the number of millions of visas already issued. This also needs to be addressed and this situation requires a common approach. We have therefore called on the European Commission to address this complex situation and provide guidance,” continued Borrell.

The Union will also stop recognizing visas issued to Russians in occupied parts of Ukraine and will consider each Russian visa individually.

According to Kuleba, who finds Wednesday’s conclusions insufficient, only tough measures are possible. “If I had to choose between tough measures and no measures, then I choose no measures and let negotiations continue until a tough solution is found,” Kuleba commented on the conclusions of EU diplomatic leaders.

He stated that Ukraine will only accept the issuance of visas to those Russians who need them for humanitarian reasons or because of political persecution. “If you don’t respect the borders of other states, then you can’t want to cross them,” Kuleba reasoned.

Analyst: States also perceive differently how Russian society works

Analyst Pavel Havlíček from the Association for International Affairs (AMO) commented on the conclusions of today’s meeting of foreign ministers for Novinky. According to him, the agreement to freeze the visa agreement is a continuation of the trend that began after the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is a compromise between states demanding a total ban and especially Western countries that are more in favor of visa restrictions, he said.

“There were arguments of the nature that historically the EU was inclined to distinguish between the Russian regime and society in a broad sense, especially civil society,” Havlíček described the motivation of countries that do not agree to a complete ban on tourist visas for Russians.

“There is a part of Russian society that actively opposes the war, and these people should not be forgotten,” he noted. According to him, this is the main argument for France or Germany why Russian tourist visas should not be banned.

Eastern countries have leverage over the rest of the Union if it does not ban visas for Russian tourists

Foreign

He reiterated that Eastern states are left free to adopt their own national measures within the limits of the Schengen Area Agreement. After all, the Czech Republic already banned the issuance of all visas to Russian citizens in February, becoming the first country in Europe to do so. The Baltic states neighboring Russia are now likely to resort to similar measures.

For the eventual adoption of a blanket ban, unanimous support would be needed, not a simple majority. “I think it will be very difficult precisely because this different position between the member states also reflected a different perception of how Russian society works, whether it really is overwhelmingly anti-war, or whether it agrees with the Russian war, or whether it is necessary to distinguish between parts of Russian society,” the analyst explained.

“In my opinion, there are many motivations behind this different position, and it will not be easy to reach a consensus,” he added.

In addition to the suspension of the visa agreement, they also see the fact that the EU will stop recognizing visas issued in the occupied territories of Ukraine as a concession to the Eastern states and Ukraine. “Another concession to this ‘sharp’ group of states is that European institutions will review approximately twelve million Russian visas that are already in circulation,” added Havlíček.

The article is in Czech

Tags: halfbaked solution Kuleba satisfied conclusions Prague negotiations

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