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Immigration policy in Finland: returns at the border with Russia – News

Immigration policy in Finland: returns at the border with Russia – News


Finland wants to soon return undocumented people directly to the Russian border. A legally questionable law has the best chance in Parliament. Background of Northern Europe correspondent Bruno Kaufmann.

Initial position: The Finnish government accuses Russia of deliberately allowing large numbers of migrants to enter the Russian-Finnish border areas in order to create chaos there. This is the conclusion reached by Finnish intelligence. Therefore, Helsinki had already closed all border crossings with Russia at the end of last year, except for the far north. It was also decided to build a border fence at a distance of several hundred kilometers. Only yesterday the last open maritime border with Russia in the Baltic Sea was closed.

the plan: The Finnish government – led by conservative Prime Minister Petri Orpo – is currently preparing a new law that would also allow so-called returns along the 1,300-kilometre border with Russia. This is a direct rejection of those wishing to enter the country without being able to apply for asylum. It is another signal from Helsinki to Moscow that Finland does not want to be subject to organized migration flows.

the opportunity: Implementing returns is controversial because it would undermine Finland's previously enjoyed right to asylum for refugees. Meanwhile, no one questions Russia's unfriendly intentions. For Finland, the border with Russia has been a thermometer of the Kremlin's mental state for more than a century. The signs are currently not peaceful. The Finnish Border Guard assumes that as temperatures rise, more people will want to enter Finland again.

International law: With the new law, Finland is violating international law. But the Finnish government speaks of returns as a kind of exceptional provision that preserves the rule of law and does not fundamentally call into question international law. This is an exception to the rule in a situation of great importance for Finland's national security. Balancing interests that may be at the expense of the right to asylum.

Border in Finland.


Finland had already closed most of its border crossings with Russia in November. Pictured is the Finnish border post in Vartius on November 23, 2023.

imago/scanpix/Konstantin Sidnev

Results: Finland's planned move shows how democratic countries ultimately have short borders compared to authoritarian countries. In this particular case, it opposes the Russian tactic of allowing undocumented refugees into previously largely closed border areas with Finland. It is also revenge for Finland's entry into NATO, which has long since ceased to be voluntarily neutral. Moscow is thus forcing Finland to question its own values.

Next steps: In Finland, negotiations are currently underway between the government and the opposition regarding legislative plans. There is great agreement on the position towards Russia. This was already clear when we joined NATO. There were very few dissenting voices there. The question of stricter asylum law is now not whether the new regulation should be implemented, but how it should be implemented. Prime Minister Orbo is expected to present the law to Parliament for a vote in the next few days.