'Rahva teenrid': Estonia might escape the worst of migration conflict

Aivar Hundimägi, Indrek Kiisler and Heidit Kaio.
Aivar Hundimägi, Indrek Kiisler and Heidit Kaio. Source: ERR

Estonia has a good chance to mostly escape the Belarusian regime's migration conflict with EU member states courtesy of preparedness on the border and the fact Estonia does not share a border with Belarus, journalists found on the Vikerraadio "Rahva teenrid" talk show on Saturday.

"While our leaders have largely refrained from commenting on the issue, it seems preparations were launched when Lithuania first came under pressure," Äripäev deputy editor-in-chief Aivar Hundimägi said. He added that rumors suggest preparations have been made near the Koidula border point between Estonia and Russia should the need arise to erect a refugee camp in the area. "It seems to me that the level of preparedness is higher in Estonia [than it was in Latvia and Lithuania]," Hundimägi suggested.

Heidit Kaio, editor-in-chief of the Eesti Naine magazine, joined Hundimägi in hoping Estonia is better prepared.

Host Indrek Kiisler (ERR) said that Estonia lacking a border with Belarus and Russia's unwillingness to have migrants pass through its territory might also speak in the country's favor.

"Russia participates in many conflicts all over the world, while none of them are taking place in its territory, including the Belarusian one. Russia is not interested in bringing these conflicts inside its borders," Kiisler offered.

It has been suggested this week that migrants stuck on the Polish and Lithuanian borders in Belarus could be sent Estonia's way using the Pskov Airport.

Hundimägi seconded, saying that if Russia wants to play the role of mediator and broker a peace between Europe and Belarus, it cannot be a visible party to the conflict. "That would make it impossible for them to appear as a conciliator," Hundimägi said.

Kiisler added that it is important to keep an eye on what Finland is doing in the crisis. "Unlike Estonia, they have a direct line to the Russian leadership. President Sauli Niinistö met with his Russian colleague mere weeks ago. We will have reason for concern once we see Finland start to make active preparations," Kiisler suggested.

Kaio described it as a positive development that Poland is currently bearing the brunt of the crisis as it is a large country with enough resources to keep Belarus in check. Poland also benefits from its historical background – Poland was caught between the major powers in WWII, which has left the West feeling guilty, Kaio offered.

Touching on Estonia-Russia relations, all three journalists found that maintaining channels of communication with Russia is necessary even in the conditions of poor mutual relations.

Other topics included the incoming coalition in Tallinn, the coronavirus crisis, vaccination and the situation in schools – partial school closures and coronavirus testing in schools.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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