Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) reacted at a press conference related to the situation at the eastern border of Finland in Helsinki on Tuesday, 14 November 2023. Rantanen told YLE later yesterday that national sovereignty can in some circumstances take precedence over international obligations, enabling a complete shutdown of the border. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)


MINISTER of the Interior Mari Rantanen (PS) believes Finland could shutter not only its eastern border but also all other border-crossing points in circumstances where national sovereignty takes precedence over international obligations, reports YLE.

Finland has committed to international treaties decreeing that the right to international protection is inviolable, a commitment that effectively translates to the country having to have at least one border-crossing point open for asylum seekers.

“The thing is that ultimately, in a situation where it’s necessary, Finland could shut down the entire border. No international treaty is a suicide pact,” Rantanen argued on YLE A-studio on Tuesday.

The Finnish government has indicated its readiness to resort to all means at its disposal in response to an increase in people arriving at the eastern border. Rantanen said to the public broadcasting company that one option is to only accept asylum claims at Helsinki Airport.

“If [the applicants] are able to come from their own country first by applying for let’s say a visa in Russia and use different means to transport to travel to the border of Finland, it’d feel unusual if they weren’t able to continue their journey to Helsinki Airport,” she analysed.

The Southeast Finland Border Guard District revealed yesterday that daily the number of asylum applicants at the eastern border hit 50 at 9pm, representing a roughly 50 per cent increase from the total for last week.

Minister of Defence Antti Häkkänen (NCP) on Tuesday said there are indications that the increase has been orchestrated.

The number of applicants without proper travel documents has been high for the past few months, a spokesperson at the district communicated last weekend. The increase has been attributed to a new stance adopted by Russian officials, to start allowing people without the necessary travel documents to travel to the border with Finland.

Jukka Lukkari, a deputy commander at the Southeast Finland Border Guard District, told YLE on Tuesday that the applicants are presently arriving at the border in groups of four to five, some on bicycles.

The Ministry of the Interior is mulling over restrictions at the border that could be adopted as soon as in the coming days, according to Rantanen.

“There’s nothing in the law that’d prevent us from resorting to tougher measures. Of course the intention is to come up with measures that are necessary and proportionate to this situation,” she outlined to YLE.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT