Tuesday July 23, 2024

Finland decides to temporarily close eastern border

Published : 16 Nov 2023, 16:05

  DF Report
Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (M), Interior Minister Mari Rantanen and Deputy Chief of the Finnish Border Guard Markku Hassinen spoke at the press conference on Thursday afternoon. Photo: Finnish government by Fanni Uusitalo.

The government on Thursday decided to close part of Finland's eastern border with Russia for the next three months against the backdrop of influx of the increasing number of asylum seekers.

The border crossing points of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala will be closed starting on Saturday, said a government press release on Thursday afternoon. The decision will remain in force until February 18, 2024.

The government took the decision at a pre-scheduled meeting in the afternoon.

“We have acted decisively and swiftly so that the situation at the eastern border would not escalate. During the previous parliamentary term, amendments were made to the Border Guard Act precisely for such situations. These tools have now been used,” said Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.

“The closing of border crossing points at the eastern border will stop illegal entry into Finland. The Government is prepared to take even stronger measures, if necessary,” said Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen.

The government said that there are indications that foreign authorities or other actors have played a role in facilitating the entry into Finland of persons who have crossed the border illegally.

During the validity of the decision, people crossing the land border between Finland and Russia must use border crossing points other than those of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala. Finnish citizens must also use open border crossing points.

The submission of applications for international protection, asylum, at the land border between Finland and Russia, will be concentrated at the border crossing points of Vartius and Salla. People seeking to enter the country will be directed and guided to these locations.

According to section 16 of the Border Guard Act, the Government may decide to close border crossing points for a fixed period or until further notice if it is necessary to prevent a serious threat to public order, national security or public health. The Government may also decide to centralise the submission of applications for international protection at one or more border crossing points if needed.

The Government and authorities are closely monitoring the situation at Finland’s eastern border. The content and scope of the decision will be regularly assessed as the situation develops. The decision will be repealed or amended if it is no longer necessary to prevent a serious threat to public order or national security.

The government on Wednesday at a meeting decided that measures to ensure border security following the rapid increase in illegal entry at the eastern border will be taken on Thursday.

Earlier on Tuesday the Ministry of the Interior said, the government may decide to restrict cross-border traffic or to close border crossing points at eastern border with Russia against the backdrop of the influx of increasing number of asylum seekers.