Estonian Prime Minister’s message brings travel controversy public – Kaja Kallas’ open letter to Sanna Marin tells of difficulties in relations between the two countries | Yle news

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Travel restrictions between Estonia and Finland tighten emotions between two close peoples. On Friday, Kallas demanded what was published in Helsingin Sanomat (you switch to another service) in a flowing open letter to Finland to relax the restrictions.

Estonian integration expert working in Helsinki at the Tuglas Society, which promotes Estonian-cultural contacts Lake Lipasti says that there is a difference in the attitude of Finns and Estonians:

– The way Estonians communicate is more emotional. Then the businesslike style of Finns easily seems indifferent to Estonians.

Lake Lipasti

Järvi Lipasti is the training and integration planner of the Tuglas Society. Lake Lipasti

Recently, the Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas invited the Ambassador of Finland, Timo Kantola, to address him due to travel restrictions. Colleagues To Sanna Marini Kallas appealed publicly on Friday without sparing emotion.

“Dear Sanna,” Kallas writes many times

“Dear Sanna,” begins the letter. Kallas reminds that both he and Marin are lucky when they are not forced to live apart from their families because of work.

Regarding the status of Estonian children stuck in Finland due to travel restrictions, Kallas reminds emphatically: “Four and a half months is the same as eternity in a small child’s life,” he writes.

The Estonian Prime Minister deplores the preference for air transport over shipping, citing both social and environmental reasons. As a solution to make travel easier, Kallas proposes digital health certificates and calls for proportionality, as well as the possibility for vaccinated people to travel.

At the end of the letter, there is room for a reference to EU rules, with which Kallas, in Kallas’s view, contradicts.

In an interview with Yle, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tightened his message. He said he feared that a humanitarian crisis could develop in Estonia if Finland did not relax travel restrictions between the countries.

“Things have gone wrong when they have to be taken care of in public”

Relations between Finland and Estonia are considered so good that even disagreements are sometimes said directly.

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Still, the public can also tell about the problems, says a journalist who knows Estonia Hannele Valkeeniemi. Valkeeniemi does not remember the comparison point to Prime Minister Kallas’ open letter from recent history.

Hannele Valkeeniemi on the couch

Hannele Valkeeniemi, a journalist specializing in Estonia, worked for five years as a press officer at the Finnish Embassy in Tallinn. Mari Siltanen / Yle

– There is usually something wrong with things, when they have to be taken care of in public, he thinks.

Experts in Estonia emphasize that understanding the relations between the countries requires that they know how to look at the issue from the perspective of both shores of the Gulf of Finland.

Hannele Valkeeniemi worked for five years as a press officer at the Finnish Embassy in Tallinn. For Valkeeniemi, which speaks Estonian, it was a Lookout on the ground. He now regrets that the confrontation in relations between the countries has escalated so badly.

“Finland appears to Estonia as a great power”

According to Valkeeniemi, Finland and Estonia began to equate a dozen years ago. According to him, however, it is not always remembered in Finland that from Estonia’s point of view, Finland is more important as a country than Estonia is to Finland.

– There is only one country in the world for which Finland looks almost like a great power, Valkeeniemi describes the still life.

According to Järvi Lipast, the situation in Finland in Estonia is being closely monitored, but in Finland, Estonia has come to the fore during the corona, mainly due to bad news.

– I believe that a lot can be achieved through communication. Now it seems that this has failed, probably on both sides, says Valkeeniemi.

– The neighbor should know better and should be better able to talk to the other. It seems to me that Finland has not succeeded in justifying travel restrictions, nor has Estonia any better of its own point of view.

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Estonia wanted media publicity because diplomacy did not help

Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute Kristi Raik | also notes that in recent weeks there have been several special stages in contacts between Estonia and Finland.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas’ open letter to the Prime Minister of Finland through the media is exceptional in Estonian conditions as well, says Raik Yle.

– There was a desire to send such an open political message from Estonia, because the matter has not received publicity in Finland through diplomacy.

Kristi Raik, Director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute.

Kristi Raik is the director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute.Antti Häkli / General

While he finds Estonia’s reactions understandable, he also wonders why Estonia ended up in a public throwback at this point when the treatment of the pandemic is already beginning to be decided.

The connection between Estonia and Finland already resembles the “zebra trade”

Hannele Valkeeniemi has known Estonia for a long time. When the employment of Estonians in Finland increased after the economic crisis of 2008, a common Finnish-Estonian world began to form, in which people could move freely with their livelihood and trade.

Valkeeniemi compares this to a “zebra trade” a hundred years ago, when herring and grain were sold across the Gulf of Finland.

But the corona crisis put an end to the current lively ties and restored a Soviet-style border between the two countries.

– At that time, it was not recognized in Finland how many Estonians work here. Estonians are Finland’s most invisible minority, says Valkeeniemi.

According to Järvi Lipast, it was only with the interest rate restrictions that it was properly seen how close the common area between Estonia and Finland had already been.

– Work and everyday life are intertwined. In practical life, we do not even feel that we go abroad when we travel to Tallinn or Helsinki, says Lipasti.

View over the Gulf of Finland

– However, it was now seen that this cross-border has not been properly understood. Korona has been a new situation for everyone, when it has been difficult to find solutions, Järvi Lipasti says.

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He works in Helsinki, but maintains close relations with his native Estonia.

Passengers arriving in Finland from Estonia at the Western Terminal in Helsinki.

Passengers arriving in Finland from Estonia at the Western Terminal in Helsinki.Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Kristi Raik also looks at events from both sides of the Gulf of Finland.

He also says that Finland has not understood how important a state it is for Estonia.

According to Raikki, it is thought in Estonia that close and multi-level relations between countries and citizens would automatically lead to a special relationship between states. Therefore, Finland should treat Estonia differently from what is happening now during the interest rate restrictions.

“Finland is slower, Estonia is faster”

On the other hand, it has not been internalized in Estonia that Finland has its own strategy for dealing with the corona pandemic and that Finland adheres to it, even if it stretches EU rules.

– Although Finland is currently preparing changes to commuting, it is not because of Estonia but because the change in the disease situation makes it possible, Raik concludes.

It is also a matter of the mentality of the peoples in dealing with things.

– Solutions are being made more slowly in Finland, Estonia is faster, says Kristi Raik.

He also expressed the same views in an interview with the Estonian Broadcasting Corporation on Wednesday (you switch to another service).

Raik, director of the Estonian Foreign Policy Institute, does not believe that the interest rate dispute will leave long marks on Estonian-Finnish relations.

– Yes, but over time they will be over. It is important for both.

Raik recalls that although the previous Estonian Minister of the Interior Mart Helme appointed Prime Minister Marinia as a treasurer, so this too could be quickly set aside in both countries.

– Relations between our countries are deeper than what happens in daily politics.

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