Estonia/Finland: the politics of commuting
In an open letter to her Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has called for a solution to the dispute over commuters. Finland currently only permits quarantine-free entry to arrivals from Malta and Iceland. Since the start of the year when the rules were tightened, thousands of Estonians have had to choose between their jobs on one side of the border and their families on the other.
Nothing special about this relationship
Kristi Raik, director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, describes this as a difficult moment in Estonian-Finnish relations. She has lived and conducted research in Finland for years and has the following to say in an interview with ERR Online:
“Estonia's patience ran out last week. The Finnish decisions were so unfair and directly aimed at Estonia that Estonians working in Finland were only allowed to enter by plane, but not by ship. What has really made Estonia angry is that Finland stubbornly refuses to even discuss a special solution for Estonia. We tend to think that we have a special relationship with Finland. But Finland doesn't see it that way. So we talk past each other.”
Diplomacy called for
Finland must find a solution for Estonian commuters, Ilta-Sanomat demands:
“Despite the vaccinations, the epidemic is not yet completely under control in Europe. ... Last winter the infection situation in Estonia worsened within a very short time, and was among the worst in Europe. At that time the restrictions had to be tightened. But this cannot go on indefinitely. ... The situation for Estonian workers must be improved as quickly as possible, within the bounds of what is feasible. Finland should take a diplomatic approach and respect the Estonians' feelings. But this situation will certainly not put a strain on relations between our two countries in the long term.”