The gaps between Finland and Estonia are being eroded by travel restrictions imposed by Finland, which did not liberalize commuting to ship traffic, but only to air traffic. Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas wrote to the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin in an open letter published in HS on Friday.
Estonia prime minister Kaja Kallas appeals to the Prime Minister of Finland To Sanna Marini to exempt maritime traffic from travel restrictions. An exceptional open letter from one prime minister to another was published on Friday on the editorial page of Helsingin Sanomat.
The letter is part of a continuation with Kallas the week before spoke Finland’s Ambassador to Estonia Timo Kantolan On travel restrictions introduced by Finland on Monday. Last week, the Estonian Foreign Minister also Eva-Maria Liimets writes restrictions to EU commissioners.
“Dear Sanna, I ask that together we reach a solution where Estonians working in Finland can visit their home country,” Kallas addresses Marin.
Finland the new travel restrictions will make it easier to enter the country between the EU and Schengen countries on business flights, but not on board. These entry restrictions are valid until June 27.
When the restrictions came into force, shipping companies began to guarantee access to the ship if a passenger had to show proof of a coronavirus disease, even a single coronary vaccine, or a negative coronary test. However, access to the country cannot be guaranteed by shipping companies, and Eckerö Line, for example rebuked new restrictions contrary to EU law.
Estonia Prime Minister Kallas and the Prime Minister of Finland Marin are both family members, and Kallas invokes family reasons in his open letter. In his view, no one should have to choose in the 21st century which one they consider more important, their family or their job.
“At the end of January, however, thousands of Estonians whose families are in Estonia and work in Finland were forced to make such a choice. Most of them had to choose their job in Finland to ensure their family’s livelihood, ”Kallas writes.
According to the Estonian Business Development Center, in 2019, Estonian tourists made 634,000 trips to Finland alone. There is no certainty about the number of people living on the other side of the Gulf of Finland separated from their families due to work, but in 2017 a researcher from the University of Tartu and the University of Eastern Finland Keiu Telve evaluates For broadcastingthat there were almost 20,000 Estonians living in Estonia but working seasonally in Finland.
In 2020 Estonian average salary was 1,448 euros and Finnish median salary EUR 2 958. The figures are not entirely comparable, but show the disparity that Kallas alleges in his letter. The flight ticket from Tallinn to Helsinki for this Friday cost the cheapest on Thursday 55 euros, ship ticket 11 euros.
According to Kallas, meeting a family living behind the Gulf of Finland should not depend on the level of earnings, but in practice this is the case.
“Favoring air transport is also not environmentally friendly or in line with the principles of green choices,” Kallas points out and also refers to trade:
“Trucks can’t be loaded on an airplane.”
The second wave of the coronavirus pandemic hit Estonia exceptionally hard in the winter. The number of infections detected in Estonia in March was more than ten times higher than in Finland, but the situation has eased.
Estonia has made various proposals during the winter and spring on how traffic between Finland and Estonia could be organized as safely as possible. However, the practical arrangements were still in question when Finland’s Ambassador to Estonia Kantola commented on his conversation with Prime Minister Kallas, the Estonian Broadcasting Corporation. To the ERR.
The ambassador said that he was of the opinion that experience had already been gained with the practical arrangements of border control at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, and therefore it was decided to allow a freer arrival at the beginning, ie until the end of June.
European the commission is already in february reprimanded Finland on the implementation of entry into the country contrary to the Schengen Agreement. In addition to Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Denmark and Hungary also received the indictment at that time.
In addition to Estonia, the latest restrictions have also been criticized seafarers’ unions, The cities of Helsinki and Vantaa, Finavia, Finnair, SAK and the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK).
Kallas and Marin have met during the past year at least in Helsinki, Porto, Portugal and Brussels. They have also talked on the phone.
Kallas became the Prime Minister of Estonia at the end of January.
He made his first visit abroad to Finland in February – by ship. Kallas described Marini as a warm person to Helsingin Sanomat, who traveled with him, and believed that they would become good allies at the European level.
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