Since autumn last year, more than 1,000 people crossed the Russia-Finland border without a Schengen visa and applied for asylum in Finland. The two prime ministers said at a press briefing they would return to the matter next week by phone.
Both sides underlined the prospects for developing economic relations. Sipila said Finland seeks cooperation with Russia in areas not touched by the current sanctions enacted by the European Union. Medvedev said the message should reach Brussels.
Sipila said that closing what he described as “a channel of illegal entries” is both in the interest of Russia and Finland. Medvedev said the crossings over to Finland by asylum seekers via Russia is not a repercussion of Russian policies, but the reason is the “short-sighted policies of the European Union”.
Medvedev also said that more than 30,000 people have come to Finland as refugees from Sweden, and there has only been a small number from Russia compared to that from Sweden.
The current border control agreement between Finland and Russia dates back to 1998. In the 38th article of the agreement, both countries should block illegal crossings of the border in either direction.
Finland has chosen to hold bilateral talks with Russia in finding solutions to the east border crossings and not via the European Union level. The decision has been controversial, but approved by all major political parties in Finland.
Vice chairman of Finland’s Parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee Pertti Salonen was surprised with the meagre initial results in the talks. However, he told Finnish national broadcaster Yle that it was too early to conclude that Russia has made the border situation into a tool to pressure Finland. Enditem