After Estonia and Russia sign a border treaty on February 18, the two countries could set up a visa-free zone that would simplify the movement of people living in border areas and revive the local economy, reported ERR.
There is namely an option in the Schengen regime that enables to create a visa-free border zone in a range of up to 50 km from the border. There is already a similar 30-km visa-free zone between Russia and Norway, as well as between Poland and the Kaliningrad region. Also Latvia has decided to use this option.
The issue was discussed also at a workshop dedicated on Russia’s business opportunities that was recently held in Värska in Southern Estonia and that attracted tens of entrepreneurs from Southern Estonia.
Vladimir Zubov, president of the Pskov regional chamber of commerce and industry who attended the workshop said that there is considerable interest in Pskov towards Estonia.
Speaking of the simplified border arrangement, Zubov said: "Everyone who had used this option has lost nothing. All have benefited. This includes revival of cross-border trade, expansion of enterprise into neighbouring countries, perhaps even resolving an acute bilateral issue between the two countries."
Vello Saar, managing director of Värska spa where more than half of customers are from the Pskov area, said that Estonia had been too careful and waited too long. Tourists from Pskov agree. "We could come with a larger group, but it depends on who has a visa," explained Maria Vasiljeva and Irina Jefremova from Pskov.
Jevgeni Ništšik and Roman Andrjušin added that a non-visa regime would be very good because arranging a visa requires time and money.