Haavisto: Estonians stuck in Finland becoming burning issue

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Pekka Haavisto.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland Pekka Haavisto. Source: Erik Peinar/Office of the Riigikogu

The Finnish foreign minister said before the government sitting on Sunday that health concerns remain the most important aspect of the decision whether to open borders, while a decision is needed regarding Estonians who have been forced to stay in Finland for a long time.

The Finnish government is set to discuss relaxing restrictions on Sunday. A task force headed by Permanent State Secretary Martti Hetemäki has put together a report for exiting the state of emergency to give the government as set of guidelines for brining Finland out of the coronavirus crisis.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto, who has previously told ERR that the Finnish government would consider opening the border for Estonian workers on Sunday, said before the government sitting that health considerations remain the most important.

"Let us see what the experts say. We will proceed based on health being our number one priority," Finnish public broadcaster Yle quoted Haavisto as having said.

Haavisto said he spoke to Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu last week. "We lingered on this topic for some time. The question of [Estonian] workers who have not been able to visit their home for a long time is slowly becoming a burning issue," Haavisto noted.

Haavisto told ERR on Wednesday that he knows many Estonians find themselves in a difficult situation, having gotten stuck working in Finland. "We are very grateful for their contribution. We know they have not seen their families for a long time because there is no ferry link," the foreign minister added.

Yle expects the sitting to last late into the evening. It remains unclear whether a decision will be made to relax restrictions, while Prime Minister Sanna Marin said before the sitting that she has a rather clear idea of how restrictions could be eased based on Hetemäki's report.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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