Germany and France are rejecting a proposal to ban the entry of Russian tourists or visitors to the European Union with a joint position document.
"We need to think of clever ways to use the important leverage of passport visas", notes the text distributed by the services of Annalena Burbock and Catherine Colonna to the foreign ministries of the remaining 25 EU member states, ahead of the foreign affairs council which takes place today and tomorrow Wednesday in Prague.
"it is important not to alienate future generations of Russians from Europe...the ban could spark an escalation of nationalist and anti-European sentiment in Russia"
While accepting that applications for passport visas submitted by citizens of Russia should be carefully considered to prevent security risks, the Franco-German document stresses that one should not underestimate "the transformative power of the experience of living in democratic systems from the first hand".
"Our visa policies must reflect this and allow face-to-face contacts in the E.U. to Russians who are not connected to the Russian government," continues the text obtained by the German Agency.
The text argues that the current legal framework allowing students, artists, scientists and professionals to enter the EU should remain in place, regardless of whether they face political persecution in Russia or not.
He warns against the imposition of extensive visa restrictions and stresses that it is important not to alienate future generations of Russians from Europe.
In addition, the document added, the ban could spark an escalation of nationalist and anti-European sentiment in Russia, where many citizens tend to rally behind their political leaders when they feel they are being attacked or victimized by what they perceive as Russophobic outside forces.
The text of the Franco-German joint position was drawn up in response to the ongoing debate among European governments on whether and to what extent Russians should be generally prevented from traveling for leisure to the Old Continent, following the Russian military's invasion of Ukrainian territory on February 24.
Source: APE-MPE, dpa