Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek greets his Polish counterpart with an "elbow-bump" in Prague

Prague, Czech Republic – Czech and Polish officials are discussing the reopening of their mutual border on Wednesday as the two Visegrad countries continue to relax anti-coronavirus restrictions.

Prague and Warsaw discuss reopening of Czech-Polish border

On his first trip abroad since the start of the epidemic, Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz traveled to Prague to meet with his Czech counterpart Tomas Petricek. The two officials discussed the possibility of reopening their mutual border, but no final decision or timeline has been agreed upon yet.

“I would like to set an example to others, showing that person-to-person meetings are possible, not only telephone talks or video conferences”, Poland’s top diplomat said in Prague. “Poland wants to keep lifting restrictions on the visits of foreigners. We’re following measures undertaken by other countries and we realize that restrictions put an economic burden on Polish and Czech tourism”.

Reminding that Poland has allowed the transit on its territory of EU citizens traveling to Germany or Lithuania, for instance, M. Czaputowicz asked the Czech government to allow Poles to transit through the Czech Republic into other neighbouring countries, including Austria where many Polish citizens work.

Earlier this month, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had called on both Poland and the Czech Republic to completely reopen their borders with their Western neighbour.

“We’ll stop border controls for Denmark in the next few days, and from June 15th there will be no more checks at the borders with France, Austria and Switzerland […] I’m hoping that the border controls that the Polish and Czech friends currently do will also be lifted in the foreseeable future”, he said.

Polish and Hungarian Foreign Ministers Jacek Czaputowicz and Peter Szijjarto in Budapest
Jacek Czaputowicz also met with his Hungarian counterpart in Budapest following his visit to the Czech Republic. Credit: PAP/EPA/ZSOLT SZIGETVARY

“Little Schengen” slowly takes shape in Central Europe

Both Poland and the Czech Republic had previously expressed their desire to open up borders with countries in the region where the epidemiological situation is satisfactory, prompting talks of the establishment of a Central European “mini-Schengen” area that could take shape in June.

Only yesterday, Slovakia announced it was easing travel restrictions with several European countries. As of today, people with permanent or temporary residence in the country are allowed to travel to the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, among others, for 48 hours without having to show a negative Covid-19 test upon return.

The Czech government, for its part, is due to discuss the division of countries into a list of “risky” and “risk-free” destinations, planning to considerably ease travel restrictions for the latter, probably around June 15.

After his meeting in Prague, Polish Foreign Minister Czaputowicz went to Budapest to meet with Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto, and indicated he was also planning a visit to Slovakia in the near future.

Headed by Kafkadesk's chief-editor Jules Eisenchteter, our Prague office gathers over half a dozen reporters, editors and contributors, as well as our social media team. It covers everything Czech and Slovak-related, and oversees operations from our other Central European desks in Krakow and Budapest.