By Chris King •
Updated: 19 Nov 2023 • 18:55
Image of Finnish PM Petteri Orpo.
Credit: Fanni Uusitalo, Prime Minister's Office/Creative Commons Attribution 4.0
UPDATE: Sunday, November 19 at 6:51 pm
FOLLOWING the closure of four border crossing points connecting Finland with Russia, protests have taken place in the Finnish capital of Helsinki.
Among those voicing their concern at the implementation of a new ‘Iron Curtain’, were citizens with dual-nationality and Russians. Chants of ‘open the borders’ rang out as they gathered outside the parliament building.
According to euronews.com, many of the protestors faced not being able to visit relatives on the opposite side of the borders after four crossings were closed at midnight on Friday 17.
‘I feel that I’m being cut off from my family. I worry so much, and they are also very afraid. Everyone remembers, even I remember what the Iron Curtain was. It’s very scary to return to this’, Helsinki resident and dual-nationalist Vera Ponamoreva told the news outlet.
Another explained the cost and distance involved in having to travel to the nearest open border point in the north of the country.
Those protesting fully acknowledged the reasons behind the closures but said they didn’t believe that closing the points would stem the flow of migrants and asylum seekers.
Jukka Lukkari, the the deputy commander of Southeastern Border Guard’s District told the publication on Saturday: ‘Today we have had quite a calm today because our border crossing points closed at midnight’.
Friday, November 17 at 0:36 am
FINLAND has decided to close four border crossing points on the eastern border as a precaution.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, November 16, the Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo insisted that his government had acted quickly and decisively to avoid any escalation in the situation on the eastern border.
As a result, the border crossings between Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala will be closed on the night between Friday 17 and Saturday 18 for a period of at least three months.
No kind of border crossing will be possible at any of the stations that are are closed confirmed Mari Rantanen, the Interior Minister. The 1,340-km-long Finland-Russia land border serves as the European Union’s external frontier with Russia.
He stated: ‘This decision was made because, based on the findings and information received by the Border Guard and other authorities, there are clear indications that the authorities of a foreign state or other actors have played a role in facilitating the arrival of persons who crossed the border illegally’.
Any threat of the situation expanding poses a serious threat to public order and national security according to Rantanen. Finland is sending a message to the intruders, in various languages and through various channels, that Finnish territory is off-limits he stressed.
In recent days, more asylum seekers than usual have arrived at the border stations in South-Eastern Finland. However, after 6 am on Thursday, no new asylum seekers arrived at those particular border crossing points. During the evening, five asylum seekers arrived at the border crossing points.
According to Rantanen, the most important issue is not the current number of asylum seekers. ‘The point here is that we have indications and information that people are being trafficked into Finland. The quantity is not an important question at all but what is important is the information we have on the background to this phenomenon’.
Those who came to Finland had been in Russia legally so responsibility for them should therefore lie primarily with Russia. They were fully functional young and healthy persons Rantanen pointed out.
‘They certainly have a responsibility themselves, whether to stand behind the Finnish border or turn the other way’, he added.
The current situation on the eastern border involves typical international crime gangs organising illegal immigration claimed the Ministry of the Interior.
It is conducted with the aid of active marketing on social media, including the attraction of migrants staying in Belarus to the Finnish route, and the permissive and active cooperation of the Russian authorities they continued.
A statement published in conjunction with Thursday’s decision said that the situation on the eastern border and the actions of the Russian authorities have become very challenging from Finland’s point of view in a short time.
Markku Hassisen, the deputy head of the Border Guard said that the latest information showed that the situation was already expanding northwards.
Thursday’s measures are aimed at preventing ‘the situation from getting out of hand’ because there is a clear risk of escalation.
Asked whether the situation could spread to land or sea borders, Hassisen responded: ‘Of course we are prepared for that’, as reported by sss.fi.
Finland is of course only one of several European nations combating the flow of asylum seekers. The British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak recently saw his plan to deport migrants to Rwanda blocked by the Supreme Court.
He has since sworn that he intends to find a way of making it happen even at the risk of losing his position as head of the UK government.
Spain also has a huge problem with migrants arriving from Africa to the various Canary Islands. Many Africans attempt to cross the dangerous stretch of water to the Spanish islands in the hope of subsequently travelling on into Europe.
In early October, the Italian authorities impounded the ‘Open Arms’, a Spanish charity rescue ship. The charity claimed that it had been accused of violating rules banning multiple migrant rescues at sea.
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Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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