Pekka Haavisto: No specific time frame on restoring labor migration

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Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto. Source: Rain Kooli / ERR

Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto told ERR on Tuesday that the Finnish government is working on restoring labor migration between Estonia and Finland as soon as possible, but the current epidemiological situation does not merit opening travel completely.

What is the Finnish government's position on restoring labor migration?

Restoring labor migration between Estonia and Finland is important to both countries. We are aware how many workers are suffering due to the current situation and it also affects their families negatively.

The Finnish government has presented a plan for the safe easing of restrictions and it also touches on border crossings. The steps are stuck behind the epidemiological situation, however. Risks on border crossing are assessed based on a comparison of the destination country's and Finland's infection indicators, we also take into account the number of travelers between the countries and our resources and capabilities at border crossing points.

There is a principle that labor migration must be restored as soon as possible, but travel should not bring unnecessary risks from the perspective of virus spread.

Is the Finnish government still of the position that restoring labor migration would bring more harm than good?

The Finnish government makes its decisions based on epidemiological situation assessments. The government is working on getting a hold of the pandemic, protecting the health of its citizens and ensuring the sustainability of its healthcare system.

We have seen over the last year that the situation can change very quickly and therefore, all our next steps have to be careful. We are gradually working on re-opening society and borders and we hope we are soon close to restoring the normal situation.

What are the counterarguments for restoring labor migration and travel in general?

The government is planning to open travel gradually, labor migration is a priority and it is followed by general travel for vacation. The aim is to open travel as soon as possible without causing additional risks to the epidemiological situation.

Why is labor migration allowed only by plane and not by ferry?

Considering the current epidemiological situation and the presumed number of travelers, it is easier to ensure safe entry to the country by plane. That is why we are working hard to allow more travel by ferries and over the land borders. I hope we reach that point soon.

The Finnish government will meet next Wednesday. What precisely will be discussed at the sitting and can a date for the re-opening of travel be estimated?

The government will discuss any changes to border crossings, but there is no certain time frame at this point for when the situation will normalize. We hope it happens soon. The Estonian and Finnish economies are tightly connected, we have many relationships over the Gulf of Finland.

From Finland's perspective, we hope we can return to the old situation as soon as the epidemiological situation merits it. The friendship between the countries must remain strong.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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