European officials are gathering for a two-day informal meeting in Prague to discuss the situation in Ukraine and how European Union countries can support the country in terms of military and social support.
During the gathering, EU defense and foreign ministers will also consider further measures against Russia stemming from Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine six months ago.
One proposal put forward by Eastern European countries is to ban Russian tourists from entering the EU.
“In a situation where people in Ukraine are being tortured, murdered, and terrorised, Russian citizens should not be enjoying tourist trips to Europe,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in a statement.
“It is important that we limit the opportunities for Russian citizens to travel in Europe,” the statement said.
After all, tourism is a privilege, not a right,” Kallas added.
Reaching a consensus among the 27 EU countries may be difficult, said Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s deputy prime minister and defense minister.
In a memo circulated ahead of the meeting, France and Germany urged a more cautious approach to changes to the EU’s visa policy.
“While understanding the concerns of some Member States in this context, we should not underestimate the transformative power of experiencing life in democratic systems,” the memo read.
The Russian government will take measures if the EU decided to ban visas for Russian nationals, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told journalists Tuesday.
“This is a very serious decision that can be directed against our citizens. And such decisions cannot remain unanswered,” he said, adding that a response from Russia will reflect what “protects the interests of our citizens.”