Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, discussed EU policy in a debate event held by YLE on Monday, 20 May. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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THE FINNS PARTY has come under pressure over its ties to right-wing, pro-Russian parties in Europe.

The pressure has grown particularly following the emergence of footage of a meeting between an alleged Russian investor and Heinz-Christian Strache, the chairperson of the Freedom Party of Austria and Vice Chancellor of Austria. Strache is shown on the footage promising government contracts to a woman who claims to be an investor and have ties to President Vladimir Putin.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz on Saturday said he will call snap elections to end his disputed coalition with the Freedom Party, whose ties to far-right groups have stirred up concerns across Europe.

“I have to say quite honestly: enough is enough,” Kurz is quoted as saying by the BBC. “The serious part of this [video] was the attitude towards abuse of power, towards dealing with taxpayers’ money, towards the media in this country.”

The Freedom Party has been one of the allies of the Finns Party in Europe.

Jussi Halla-aho, the chairperson of the Finns Party, on Monday assured the right-wing party is not supportive of the idea of introducing a visa-free travel regime with Russia.

“The Finns Party opposed the idea of a visa-free regime with Russia before the crisis in Ukraine – at a time when other parties were eagerly supporting the idea. Our position was right at the time, and it is right today,” he wrote on Facebook on Monday.

A Russian media outlet reported yesterday that Olli Kotro (PS), a candidate in the elections to the European Parliament, has said Finland should seek to abandon the Schengen Agreement and adopt a visa-free regime with Russia. The first news outlet to call attention to the report in Finland was Ilta-Sanomat.

The report was rubbished by Halla-aho.

“Candidate Kotro hasn’t proposed that a visa-free regime be created between Finland and Russia. He has effectively proposed the introduction of a special visa programme that would be targeted at a limited group of travellers and would be similar to the ones in place or under consideration between the EU and third countries,” he explained.

He reminded that visa requirements are a means to prevent people who are unable to finance their stay or who would likely commit crimes from entering Finland. If the requirements were abolished, he added, the entry conditions would still have to be met, but they would have to be ascertained at passport control.

“It’d mean that we’d need a lot more staff and yet there’d be many more mistakes. We’d also lose the revenue from the fees for processing [visa applications]. A visa-free regime offers no benefits to Finland,” he concluded.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi