Ambassador: Finland and Estonia have come closer over last few years
While during the time of the Soviet Union Estonia didn’t exist in the consciousness of Finns, the last years had brought the two countries closer, Finnish ambassador to Estonia, Kirsti Narinen, said on ETV’s “Kahekõne” talk show on Thursday.
Narinen said that more Estonians spoke Finnish these days than they did ten years ago, though the reason why they spoke it at all had shifted. “Finnish is spoken and learned because people want to go to Finland to work or study, or because their spouse is from Finland,” Narinen said.
According to the ambassador, about 50,000 Estonians are currently registered in Finland. A few ten thousand commuters add to that number. This had been made possible by the European Union and the principle of free movement of people.
“Without the European Union I’m afraid our trade unions would hardly have agreed to the free movement of people. This is a question of the market. The job market in Finland has been open to Estonians, and there has been the kind of work for which Estonians have had the skills. When there was no work for Estonians here in 2009 and 2010, it was a very good thing that there was work in Finland. Of course there was a lot of illicit work in the beginning, but now the situation is better,” the ambassador said.
The Finnish trade unions had been afraid of the change at first, Narinen said. “But now I think all in all this is very good. The flexibility and freedom that is brought in from abroad, not only from Estonia, is what Finnish society needs to develop,” she added.
Finland will celebrate its 100th anniversary in the new year.