Helsinki’s parliament has passed legislation calling for beefed-up security along its 1,340-kilometer boundary with Russia
Finland’s parliament has approved new security measures along the country’s border with Russia, passing legislation that will allow for barriers to be built and for the country to suspend or restrict migrant traffic under “exceptional circumstances.”
This bill was approved on Thursday due to security concerns raised by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and fears that Moscow will retaliate after Finland’s application for NATO membership. The legislation’s supporters cite a late-2013 migrant crisis that led Poland to construct a wall at its border with Belarus.
“With this law, we are trying to send a message that using people as a tool – as we saw attempted on the border between Belarus, Poland and Lithuania – would not succeed in Finland,”On Thursday, Ben Zyskowicz, a Finnish MP was quoted.
The bill allows the Finnish government, in the event that Russia attempts to create a refugee flow along the Finnish border, to direct all refugees to an appropriate processing center, like an airport. A supermajority passed the bill, which means parliament can speed-track new border strategies.
The legislation was criticized by critics who raised concerns that it could violate international agreements, such as EU directives regarding asylum seekers. On Monday, however, the proposal to send the bill back to the parliamentary committee to be reexamined was defeated by 103-16 votes.
In May, Finland and Sweden applied to NATO. They did so citing security concerns arising from the Russia-Ukraine war. Both nations have a long history of neutrality. However, the public opposition to NATO membership waned following Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine in February.
Russian President Vladimir Putin stated last month that NATO infrastructure and forces should be placed in Finland and Sweden. “we will be forced to respond tit-for-tat, and create the same threats for the territories we are threatened from. It is evident. Is it not obvious to them? Everything was fine before between us, but now there will be tension, of course, I repeat, if we are threatened.”
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