Nordic-Baltic foreign ministers in returning citizens transit discussions

Urmas Reinsalu and the Estonian contingent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Monday evening's NB8 video conference.
Urmas Reinsalu and the Estonian contingent from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at Monday evening's NB8 video conference. Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa), a video conference between the foreign ministers of Nordic countries and Baltic States (NB8) was held on Monday evening to discuss cross-border cooperation to help the citizens of their countries in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

A common contact network for consular assistance was decided upon, which will exchange information and cooperate on using common options for the return of Nordic and Baltic citizens from across the world, according to a foreign ministry press release.

The ministers affirmed that citizens could transit via the territories of Nordic-Baltic countries, to return home in a situation where many borders are closed to foreign nationals. The ministers also stressed the importance of the continued export of goods. 

Estonia also considers it crucial to avoid restrictions on exports of medicines and medical equipment.  

"Across the world, thousands of Nordic and Baltic citizens are waiting for a chance to return home," Reinsalu said after the meeting.

"We are all cooperating on this issue. We are also asking countries to allow Estonian citizens to travel through their territories to return to their homeland at the earliest opportunity. It is vital to maintain critical transport links, such as that between Helsinki and Tallinn. All the foreign ministers agreed that it was crucial for the transport of goods to continue in the Nordic-Baltic region as well," Reinsalu added.

Foreign Minister Reinsalu has also spoken separately with the management of Finnish carrier Finnair and forwarded a request by the Estonian government to keep open the Tallinn-Helsinki route, which is an important transport link for Estonian citizens returning home. 

Finnair had planned to suspend all of its flights starting Tuesday.

Five flights are taking place to bring back Estonian citizens in Egypt, Monday and Tuesday; returning Estonians who had been promised road transit via Poland got stuck on Monday after this offer failed to materialize. The foreign ministry is looking at chartering a special ship to bring the individuals back from a German Baltic port.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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