Estonian interior minister discusses easing border control with Baltic, EU colleagues

  • 2020-05-08
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The interior ministers of the Baltic states and the European Union (EU) in video meetings on Friday discussed the current state of the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the established rules, as well as the abolition of border control measures.

"It is in Estonia's interest that we can open a common area of movement between the three Baltic states, Poland and Finland. To achieve this goal, we must be able to agree on common principles and accept the different requirements of the countries participating in the agreement," Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme said, adding that this requires very good exchange of information and cooperation between all five countries.

Helme said that Estonia supports the relaxation of border control measures and, in connection with this, the termination of border control at the Estonian-Latvian border and the restoration of free movement. "This would mean that those people who have a legal basis to stay in Latvia or Lithuania can come without restriction of freedom of movement to Estonia and vice versa from May 15," the minister added.

Helme said that people moving between countries must still take into account local requirements. "Of course, we must not forget that the COVID-19 virus has not disappeared and those arriving from Latvia and Lithuania must follow local rules when moving around Estonia, such as the 2+2 rule," the minister added. The interior minister assured his Baltic colleagues that he is in favor of sending an text message notification to those entering the country about local codes of conduct to prevent the spread of the virus.

The minister also introduced to his Baltic colleagues the reopening of labor migration between Estonia and Finland starting from May 14.

The video meeting of Baltic interior ministers was attended by Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme, Latvian Interior Minister Sandis Girgens and Lithuanian Interior Minister Rita Tamasuniene.

The meeting of the interior ministers of the Baltic states was followed by a meeting of the interior ministers of the European Union, the main topics of which were the extension of restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union and the gradual and coordinated restoration of freedom of movement at internal borders. Mart Helme gave an overview of Estonia's developments in easing border control measures.