As the European Union (EU) debates the EU visa ban for Russian citizens, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday it was important “to commemorate the many refugees who fled Russia” amid the Moscow war in Ukraine.
At the Nordic leaders’ summit in Oslo, Norway, Scholz said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was “Putin’s war” and “not that of the Russian people.”
“It is important for us to understand that many people are fleeing Russia because they disagree with the Russian regime,” Scholz said at a press conference.
The German Chancellor added that the EU’s decisions should not “make it more difficult” for these people to leave Russia and “seek freedom”.
Lithuania and Estonia, EU member states that border Russia, have already suspended tourist visas for Russians. Finland supported the ban.
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said at the summit that she doesn’t think it’s right for Russian citizens to be allowed to “sightsee” the EU while Russian soldiers are “killing people in Ukraine”.
Marin added that the matter needs to be discussed further by EU member states. “It’s not about black or white, there are shades of gray,” he said.
The issue is to be discussed at an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers on August 31.
Scholz’s participation in the Nordic summit comes as the leaders of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland seek to strengthen defense and security ties.
The federal government has been working for months on closer cooperation with the Nordic countries in the energy sector, since Russia uses the supplies of gas and oil as a “weapon” from Berlin’s point of view.
Norway has been Germany’s most important gas supplier since Russia cut exports sharply in June.
The host of the summit, Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store, said on Monday that Norway was supplying the “maximum” possible amount of gas to Germany.
For his part, Scholz expressed “gratitude” that the country was “exhausting its gas supplies to the limit”.
The Chancellor said Germany and the Nordic countries face “the same challenges” and must therefore work to pool energy resources.
“We are working towards becoming independent of Russia’s fossil fuels,” Scholz said, adding that for this to happen, Germany and the Nordic countries would have to “join forces” to develop renewable energy sources.
Store also said the fossil fuel phaseout will be “difficult and tumultuous.”
(AP, Portal, dpa, AFP)