Austria's Foreign Minister Schallenberg at the Informal EU Foreign Ministers Meeting in Prague

PeopleOther ♦ Published: August 31, 2022; 21:39 ♦ (Vindobona)

Austria's Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg took part in the Informal Meeting of EU Foreign Ministers in Prague. The talks once again focused on the Russian war against Ukraine and its global repercussions. Among other things, a general ban on Russian citizens entering the European Union was discussed, which Austria is critical of.

Foreign Minister Schallenberg stated that one should not fall into the trap of Russian narrative and disinformation. / Picture: © BMEIA / Paier

Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg explained the importance of supporting those people in Russia who disagree with Vladimir Putin's war and not abandoning them. Schallenberg said that 'locking out an entire country of over 140 million people would be counterproductive.

According to Austria's foreign minister, a blanket ban on visas for Russian Federation nationals would cut off the last contact with Russian civilians altogether. "Critical voices in Russia, especially an up-and-coming young generation, should not be barred from the West. What is needed here is proportionality and proportion," said Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg, who warned in this context against further fueling the Russian wagon mentality.

Furthermore, ahead of the meeting of EU foreign ministers, Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg renewed Austria's commitment to the EU sanctions against Russia, the effects of which are already being felt in Russia, according to Schallenberg. According to the Austrian Foreign Ministry, the seven sanctions packages so far directly affect 1,200 private individuals associated with the Russian regime and 100 entities. According to the foreign minister, Russia's economy "will shrink by at least six percent this year, inflation in Russia is far higher than in Austria, for example, and entire sectors of the economy are lying idle."

According to Foreign Minister Schallenberg, sanctions "do not have an instant effect, but they have a medium- and long-term impact." Schallenberg warns not to trust Russian disinformation and stated that the Russian economy is sliding into recession.

The program also included an exchange with the foreign ministers of the EU accession candidates Moldova and Ukraine, as well as that of the EU candidate state Georgia, to signal to them that their place - while meeting all the requirements - is in the European community of values. Such a European perspective should serve to put a stop to destabilizing tendencies in the regions concerned. Relations between the European Union and the African continent, which has been particularly hard hit by the global food crisis fueled by the Russian war in Ukraine, were also discussed.

BMEIA Federal Ministry for Europe Integration and Foreign Affairs