THE FINNISH GOVERNMENT on Thursday issued a resolution to effectively shut down the border to Russian tourists as of Friday, 30 September.
The resolution contains a number of exceptions, including for people seeking entry to study, perform essential work duties or meet members of their immediate family. Entering Finland will be possible also for other justified reasons to guarantee access for members of the opposition, for example.
“The resolution also can’t be used to prevent travel for humanitarian reasons,” Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto (Greens) stated in a news conference in Helsinki on Thursday.
Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday wrote that preliminary estimates suggest that the resolution could halve the number of Russians entering Finland.
The entry restrictions are introduced under on Article 6(1)(e) of the Schengen Borders Code. The article states that the entry of nationals of non-member states requires that they are not regarded as a threat to public policy, internal security public health or the international relations of any member state.
“Underlying the resolution is an assessment by the foreign policy leadership that there’s a threat to our country’s international relations,” elaborated Haavisto. “We made the interpretation that if the Finnish border is open to people who’re basically banned from entering the Baltics and Poland, this would result in the deterioration of our relations and in a mismatch with the Baltics and Poland.”
He acknowledged that basing the resolution on detriment to international relations is unusual but assured that the justification was reviewed carefully with the Chancellor of Justice. Finland is the first Schengen country to utilise the code in such a way, he added.
“People in Brussels are now studying this and looking into the details,” he said. “I’m confident this will withstand the scrutiny also there.”
Tuomas Laosmaa, the director of border controls at the Finnish Border Guard, on Thursday revealed that measures taken on the other side of the border have resulted in a decline in the number of border-crossings in recent days.
“We have indications that there has been a change in the actions of Russian officials on the other side of the border,” he told. “Border-crossings by young men have decreased.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT