President in Finland: Lithuania migrant crisis concerns whole region
The migration crisis instigated by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko which recently affected Lithuania, Latvia and Poland should be a concern for all states in northeastern Europe and beyond, President Kersti Kaljulaid said after a meeting with her Finnish opposite number Sauli Niinistö in Finland Thursday.
The heads of state also discussed the security situation in the region and the immediate neighborhood.
The president said that: "The unstable situation in Belarus, the hybrid attack on Lithuania and Latvia, and against the backdrop of all this, the Zapad large-scale exercise that has been taking place behind our borders for several months now, is certainly a cocktail which requires increased attention from all countries in the region."
The two heads of state also discussed the pandemic and its effects on travel across the Gulf of Finland, which has been disrupted since the virus first arrived last March.
"It is important that we in the EU are able to ensure the free and safe movement of labor. It is impossible to overestimate the importance of travel for work between Estonia and Finland, and we discussed how to keep our countries as open as possible during the next waves and to strengthen coordination between us," Kaljulaid went on.
Significant numbers of Estonians and Finns had long traveled to each others' countries – Estonians predominantly to work – while the border closures instigated by Finland during the pandemic have interrupted that. Both countries are in the Schengen Area of free movement.
At present, quarantine-free entry to Finland, both for work and leisure, is possible upon producing proof of vaccination or negative test results.
Kaljulaid and Niinistö also discussed environmental and climate issues and bilateral cooperation between Estonia and Finland, while at the Finnish president's summer residence in Kultaranta, near Turku.
The president also took part in the launch ceremony of the MyStar, a new vessel built at the Rauma shipyard, for Estonian ferry operator Tallink.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte