Baltic States' prime ministers want to ease mutual border restrictions

Jüri Ratas at Wednesday evening's video-linked meeting with his Latvian and LIthuanian counterparts.
Jüri Ratas at Wednesday evening's video-linked meeting with his Latvian and LIthuanian counterparts. Source: Government Office

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are to form a joint working group aimed at easing border restrictions between the three states' mutual borders, as part of the overall exit strategy from the coronavirus pandemic emergency situation.

The announcement came following a video-linked meeting between the prime ministers of all three nations Wednesday night: Jüri Ratas of Estonia, Krisjanis Karins (Latvia) and Saulius Skverneline (Lithuania), and reflects improving conditions regarding the pandemic within all three countries.

This did not mean that any relaxation of restrictions, which include mandatory 14-day quarantining for most people crossing the border between Estonia and Latvia – both in the Schengen Area of free movement, was imminent, however.

"Our situation today is better than it was a few weeks ago. The reduction in the number of infected persons and the stabilizing number of in-hospital patients gives us hope that we will soon be able to start thinking about the easing of certain restrictions," Jüri Ratas said, according to a government office press release.

"When easing the restrictions, it is certainly key to exchange information with our neighbors on both the epidemiological situation and antiviral measures. We must jointly find the right moment when we can start to reduce the restrictions of movement mutually at borders," he went on.

Ratas also highlighted what he called good cooperation with Latvia and Lithuania in helping Estoniain citizens return home.

"For example, our people have been able to return home by means of special flights and ferry trips," he said.

The prime ministers also talked about mitigation and exit plans, saying coordination of their actions between the three countries was very important.

The prime ministers of the three Baltic States agreed to meet again next week, again via video conference, when major cross-border cooperation projects will be on the table, in addition to the ongoing coronavirus saga.

Estonia shares a land border with Latvia, as does Lithuania.

Lithuania, which imposed stricter measures, and more rapidly, than Estonia, at the advent of the pandemic, has started to step down its restrictions, Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT's English-language page reports.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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