Minister of Finance Riikka Purra (PS) attended a plenary session in parliament on Friday, 24 November 2023. Purra on Sunday published a blog post arguing that the government has to make the political decision to close the entire eastern border irrespective of the views of the chancellor of justice. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)

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MINISTER of Finance Riikka Purra (PS) on Sunday underscored in a blog post that the government has to make the decision to close the eastern border irrespective of the assessment of the chancellor of justice.

Deputy Chancellor of Justice Mikko Puumalainen last week blocked a government proposal to step up measures at the border on grounds that it could undermine the right to apply for asylum.

Purra on Sunday argued that Finland has drafted legislation specifically for the kind of situation that has been witnessed on its border with Russia.

“We have no alternatives. No tricks at the border are helping. I do believe the judicial reviewer understands the situation from the national security viewpoint and enables us to close the entire border. But if he does not, the political decision must be made regardless,” she wrote.

She also expressed her exasperation with “moronically liberal” interpretations of law and legislation, estimating that the deputy chancellor of justice assessed the situation solely as it pertains to international protection.

“The interpretation is founded on the kind of legal abuse of the asylum system […] that is made possible by outdated international treaties and moronically liberal national legislation that has been drafted for a different kind of world,” she said.

YLE on Sunday reported that this autumn roughly 950 asylum applicants have crossed the border from Russia to Finland. The Finnish government has estimated that the phenomenon has been orchestrated, with Russian officials allowing people without the necessary travel documents to enter the border zone.

Purra declared that the people crossing the eastern border into the country are not “real” asylum seekers, in “no emergency whatsoever” and “not fleeing” anything.

“Rather, as made possible by an asylum system that became outdated in terms of its basic principles decades ago, they are moving to countries with a higher standard of living, namely to the EU,” she wrote.

The Finns Party chairperson also called for a broader reform that ensures the right to apply for asylum never takes precedence over national security, estimating that the political climate for such a reform is opportune.

“It feels like everyone has become a ‘persu’ [a colloquial term referring to Finns Party lawmakers]. This should not be downplayed.”

Helsingin Sanomat on Saturday published a survey revealing that almost three-quarters (73%) of the public are of the opinion that the government can ignore obligations set forth in international treaties if it believes such a decision is warranted by the security situation.

The Finnish government closed four south-eastern border crossing points on 18 November. Another three points were closed six days later and the receipt of asylum applications was concentrated to the northernmost border-crossing point on the eastern border, Raja-Jooseppi.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo (NCP) on Sunday stated to YLE that Finland can, if necessary, close all border-crossing points on the eastern border. Asylum claims, he added, could in that scenario be filed only at ports or Helsinki Airport.

The possibility to concentrate the receipt of asylum applications was introduced to the border guard act in summer 2022, as a means to prepare for hybrid warfare tactics that make use of migrant flows.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

CORRECTION: The Raja-Jooseppi border-crossing point has been the only point on the eastern border where it has been possible to file an asylum claim since 24 November, not 22 November, as an unedited version of this story incorrectly suggested.

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