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Orpo: Russia and Finland to step up border cooperation

Finland and Russia want to work together to curb the flow of asylum seekers across their shared border, says Finland's interior minister Petteri Orpo.

Petteri Orpo tiedotustilaisuudessaan.
Minister of the Interior Orpo at the Jan. 27 press conference in Helsinki. Image: Vesa Moilanen / Lehtikuva

Following Tuesday's talks with Russian Minister of Internal Affairs Vladimir Kolokoltsev, Finland's interior minister Orpo says that while there is an EU and Schengen border between Finland and Russia, the two countries want to cooperate to prevent human trafficking. So far this year 434 asylum seekers – predominantly from Afghanistan, India, Syria, and Bangladesh – have entered Finland via the Russian border. Orpo noted that in recent months about 1,000 people have arrived from Russia without Schengen visas. This is a new phenomenon, which Finland wants to grapple with immediately.

Orpo said that the discussions were held in an open, cooperative atmosphere, and that both countries are concerned about illegal immigration and want to work to prevent it. The ministers agreed that the two countries have the same view of the border situation and will seek to strengthen this through bilateral discussions. Furthermore, they pledged to recognise and combat any migration-related links to organised crime and terrorism.

PMs meet on Friday

According to Orpo, the two men agreed on an array of cooperative measures, some new and some continuations of existing frameworks.

"We agreed that the previously existing law enforcement officials' coordination group should meet soon and that its agenda should include prevention of illegal immigration and other key crime-prevention topics," said Orpo at Wednesday's press conference in Helsinki.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä is to meet with his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev on Friday.

"On the basis of yesterday's meeting, I would dare to say that we can expect further steps from Friday's meeting," said Orpo.

Finland's 1340-kilometre with Russia is the EU's longest.

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