The Prime Minister of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are planning to remove the mutual borders, as a part of the overall exit strategy from the emergency situation introduced by the three amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The idea was discussed last Wednesday between Estonia’s PM, Jüri Ratas, Latvia’s Krisjanis Karins, and the Lithuanian Primer Saulius Skverneline through a video-meeting, in which the leaders talked about the improvement of conditions regarding the pandemic in the three countries.
“Our situation today is better than it was a few weeks ago. The reduction in the number of infected persons and the stabilizing number of in-hospital patients gives us hope that we will soon be able to start thinking about the easing of certain restrictions,” Jüri Ratas said to the other two leaders throughout the video call.
He also asserted that when easing the restrictions, it is undoubtedly vital to exchange information with the neighbouring countries on both the pandemic situation and antiviral measures.
“We must jointly find the right moment when we can start to reduce the restrictions of movement mutually at borders,” he added.
He also appreciated the help of Latvia and Lithuania for Estonian citizens to return home, pointing out that some of the Estonian citizens returned through means of special flights and ferry trips on the assistance of Lithuania and Latvia.
By the end of the meeting, the three leaders agreed to meet again next week through another videocall.
The meeting follows a recent decision of the Lithuanian government to extend border controls until May 14. The decision was announced yesterday by the Lithuanian Minister of the Interior Rita Tamašunienė.
“We continue to control our borders as we see that our neighbours are continuing the same actions to protect their people. As before, the movement of goods is not restricted, and our main task is to take care of people’s safety,” the Minister said.
While the Baltic states seem more approving of the idea of removing temporary border controls, the western EU countries insist that the borders must remain at least until summer.
The French Minister of Interior Christophe Castaner expressed his disapproval of the idea of the Schengen Area opening its borders before summer, as he believes such an act would be premature while the number of the infections in the world is on the rise.