Estonia raises Polish border issue with both NATO and the US

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa).
Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa). Source: ERR

Estonia has raised the issue of disruption at the Polish-German border with NATO and also key ally the United States in a separate communique, foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) said Thursday, after numbers of Estonian citizens trying to get back home by road in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic were held up there, in some cases all day, earlier in the week.

"Border issues as a result of Polish actions have a military aspect as well, as they affect the ability to move troops, "Reinsalu said at a government press conference on Thursday.

"The situation is worrying enough regarding goods and the economy, but this also has a security dimension - military equipment cannot move when the roads are blocked. This is why our ambassador has raised this issue at the North Atlantic Council (NAC), our ambassador informed me last night. In short, in the security dimension, these boundaries and routes must remain open," Reinsalu said.

The foreign minister added that according to the Estonian Ambassador to Germany, for example, the queue at one of the border crossings with Poland has already grown to 70 kilometers in length and comprises about 10,000 trucks.

Around 73 Estonian citizens found themselves trapped at the front of such a traffic column at the beginning of the week, about a kilometer over the border into Poland and close to the German city of Frankfurt an der oder. Unable to go forwards or backwards and lacking many basic facilities such as toilets, many of them had to break down a fence in order to get back on to German territory and make their way the 400 kilometers to the north German port of Travemünde.

A vessel operated by Estonian shipping firm Tallink is at the time of writing making its way back from another Baltic port in Germany, Sassnitz, and is due to arrive in Riga at midnight tonight. It carries 470  people, Estonians as well as Latvians and Lithuanians wanting to return to their countries, and had already borne around 35 German nationals from Riga on its outbound trip.

Tallink is also laying on several return voyages using its Star ferry, which usually plies its trade between Tallinn and Helsinki but was freed up by reduced schedules on that route following both Finland and Estonia imposing border controls.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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