Yana Toom about Estonian visa ban for Russian citizens: human rights are not an abstract concept


On October 2nd the Estonian MEP Yana Toom gave before the European Parliament a one-minute speech on matter of Estonian visa ban for Russian citizens that wish to visit Estonian relatives and the carelessness the European Commission approached to this subject during the hearing in the Committee of Petitions one week ago.

“Dear colleagues, in these 60 seconds I would like to tell you about a woman who is not allowed to visit her blind father; a twin sister who cannot see her disabled sibling; a woman who cannot visit a brother who is dying of cancer. All these people are relatives of Estonian citizens, all of them live in Russia. This is the impact of our visa ban which on the paper has a lot of humanitarian exceptions, but in practice it has not. One week ago we discussed the similar situations of 29 Estonians in the Committee of Petitions, but the European Commission didn't do its homework. They didn't even ask the Estonian authorities to look into particular cases and once again limited themselves by asking Estonian government: "Are you alright there?" and heard the usual answer: "Yes, we are fine." In this House where the words "human rights" are almost the most often pronounced expression, this is at least strange. Human rights is not an abstract concept, these are the rights of each and any particular person, even we don't like them. I do understand that the European Commission do not have mandate to conduct investigations in the member states, but what you must have is a political will to ask proper questions and to deliver answers to the Europeans who rely on you.”