Ambassador to Finland: Labor migration situation wrong, unfair and tragic

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Sven Sakkov. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Finland's decision to continue to limit labor migration with Estonia is unfair and incomprehensible, Estonian Ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov told ERR. The Estonian embassy has worked hard to restore migration since the start of the year, but there are no tangible results due to the reluctance of Finland.

"Since the end of January, neither me nor the embassy has had a more important task than restoring labor migration, that has been priority number one, two and three," Sakkov told ERR.

He added that soon after Finland decided to restrict movement further since the end of January, the embassy was able to draw up a plan in two days to maintain migration, but the Finnish government did not implement the idea.

"You also need the second side's desire in these questions, it is not enough if just one tries. The current situation has lasted five months too long," the ambassador said.

He added that thousands of Estonians have not been able to get home and thousands of children have not seen their parents. "I have no other words but that this is wrong, unfair and tragic," Sakkov said.

The ambassador noted that work is done each day to restore travel between Estonia and Finland, but the Finnish government will begin discussing the issue next Wednesday. If a decision is made, it may not take effect until June 21.

"Our efforts currently are to get Estonian workers home for midsummer's day (Jaanipäev, June 24). I unfortunately do not dare try to predict and promise this, it could go the other way," Sakkov noted.

Sakkov: Sweden's infection indicators more worrying

Sweden is a great influence, however, its infection indicators in the North, especially. Finns do not want to treat their neighbors any differently and free travel is also limited for this reason. But Finland has made an exemption for the Norwegian border.

"I see no reason for why Estonian people should be stuck in Finland, as infection indicators in northern Sweden are high. It is just unfair," Sakkov said.

As of Monday, Estonians are only allowed to travel to Finland and back by plane. The ambassador said Finland has justified this decision with a lack of healthcare measures at ports, which is surprising, since they have had five months to make it work.

"There is no reason to be happy about a solution that is only accessible to very few. This is a decision by the one percent for 1 percent of the people," he explained and added that ferries would be able to carry 100 times more people and with much cheaper tickets.

At the same time, Finland is passing amendments to allow the European vaccine passport, set to be valid from July. There have been no decisions on restoring labor migration, however.

Sakkov added that Finnish media coverage of the meeting between Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) and Finnish Ambassador Timo Kantola where Kallas criticized Finland's travel restrictions has been calm and descriptive.

"In Finland, strict restrictions have been popular among the population so far," the ambassador said.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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