Reinsalu calls for reintroduction of 'Baltic bubble'

Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) called for the reintroduction of the 'Baltic Bubble' travel zone between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Wednesday during an official visit to Latvia.

"While we are protecting people's health, we must make an effort to avoid a repeat of the events of this spring when the borders between our countries were almost completely closed," Reinsalu said.

The 'Baltic Bubble' was introduced in May and allowed freedom of movement between the Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during the coronavirus emergency situation. It burst last month after Lithuania and Estonia's infection rates spiked.

During his visit Reinsalu met with the President of Latvia Egils Levits, the Speaker of the Saeima Inara Muniece and foreign minister Edgars Rinkevics.

Several new initiatives were decided during the visit. Estonia plans to establish a Livonian scholarship at the Livonian Institute of the University of Latvia. Estonia and Latvia will also launch an economic cooperation award. 

Foreign policy issues were discussed at length, as well as Latvia's ambitions of becoming a member of the UN Security Council for the 2026-2027 period.

"Estonia welcomes Latvia's candidacy and is prepared to share its campaigning experience," Reinsalu said.

Events in Belarus were covered at all meetings. "The solution to the crisis in Belarus is new free and fair elections. With their resolute and principled approach, the Baltic States have played an important role internationally on the issue of Belarus. This is our immediate neighbourhood, we must respond to what is happening efficiently as the European Union, and the voice of the Baltic States carries particular weight here," Reinsalu emphasised.

Estonia has been engaged with the issue in international organisations, especially the UN Security Council and the OSCE. He said the European Union must impose the agreed sanctions on Belarus at the earliest opportunity.

The situation in Nagorno-Karabakh was also discussed.

After the meetings, the foreign ministers placed a wreath on the Freedom Monument in Riga.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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