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Foreign Minister Soini: Organised crime behind Russian border crossings

Foreign Minister Timo Soini said he wants see stricter measures to reduce the number of asylum seekers crossing the border into Lapland from Russia. Soini attributed the rise in arrivals across the eastern border to organised crime.

Perussuomalaisten puheenjohtaja ulkoministeri Timo Soini Perussuomalaisten ministeriryhmän maakuntakierroksella Sallassa 22. tammikuuta 2016.
Finns Party chair and Foreign Minister Timo Soini speaking during a tour of Finns Party ministers in Lapland on Friday. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Speaking to Yle during a tour of Finns Party ministers in Lapland Friday, Foreign Minister Timo Soini called for more stringent measures to check what he called illegal immigration and migration.

"It seems that harsher actions, even significantly, are necessary. We must put a stop to this illegal immigration and migration," Soini declared.

"There are means available for that. First of all the Interior Minister and Prime Minister will meet their Russian colleagues. We need quick results. I believe we will get them," he added.

In response to questions from reporters, Soini avoided directly calling for Finland to close its borders.

"Everything is possible," he ventured.

Norway has adopted firmer methods than Finland to deal with the arrival of asylum seekers via its Arctic border with Russia. The country has effectively sealed the border to prevent further arrivals. Reporters asked Soini why Finland doesn’t do the same.

"That’s a political decision. Finland has full control of its borders," he responded.

Ongoing dialogue with Russia, no results yet

Soini disclosed that he had discussed the asylum seeker situation with his Russian counterpart, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the beginning of December.

"At the time we didn’t make any satisfactory progress, but we at the Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office are in constant dialogue with Russia. The President and President Putin are also in regular phone contact. We’re in the kind of situation where things can’t continue or worsen. If we don’t go forward by negotiating then it will be time for harsher measures," Soini remarked.

The Finns Party chair said that the increased asylum seeker traffic from Russia into Lapland was due to organised crime.

"There are human traffickers and people smugglers, organised activities. The President even spoke of escorts and queues. Everything suggests that it is illegal organised immigration and it should be stopped," he said.

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