Reform Party nixes member's revived visa-free border zone idea
A Reform Party member running for Parliament in the northeast has proposed a visa-free border zone for Russian Federation visitors, Delfi reported, but his party has distanced itself from the idea.
Toivo Asmer, a businessman, wrote about the idea in the pages of Põhjarannik, a regional paper. "Creating a visa-free area to 50 kilometres of the border can no longer ben any risk, but it is just what is needed to stimulate the Ida-Viru County economy," he wrote.
The zone has been discussed in the past, such as at a Cabinet meeting in 2008 but the idea was put on ice. Last year another Reform member, Urmas Klaas, voiced the idea again publicly, just before the Ukraine crisis started.
Poland and Norway have similar border zones with Russia.
The Reform Party is not associated with Asmer's plan. A new member of the party, retired General Ants Laaneots, told Delfi: "I am an outright enemy of this idea."
One of the party's more prominent board members who is himself from the northeast, Interior Minister Hanno Pevkur, said the idea was "not conceivable."
"In light of Russia's actions in Ukraine, where a quote-unquote visa-free zone was created by military means, our number one task is to strengthen the Estonian border and not dabble in vague ideas about visa freedom," he was quoted by uudised.err.ee as saying.