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Opposition challenges government again over Polish border crisis response

Opposition parties have called on the government to update Finnish legislation to prepare for a possible border situation such as that faced by Poland.

Parliamentary question time was dominated by a border debate (file photo). Image: Petteri Bülow / Yle

Parliamentary question time on Thursday brought a heated discussion on the situation on the border between Belarus and Poland and on Finland's preparedness for hybrid threats.

Thousands of migrants have massed at the border, trying to enter the European Union. According to the EU and Finland, this is a hybrid operation by Belarus to protest sanctions imposed on the country after the disputed 2020 presidential election.

During Thursday's debate, the opposition Finns Party indicated it will once again seek a vote of no confidence in the centre-left government over its immigration policy. The last time Finns Party filed an interpellation about immigration was in October.

Finns Party chair Riikka Purra referred to an unconfirmed report by the German newspaper Die Welt, claiming that Germany and Finland are the main destinations for migrants trying to enter the EU through the Belarusian-Polish border.

"Shortcomings in our legislation"

Petteri Orpo, leader of the other main opposition party, the National Coalition, demanded that the government urgently introduce legislative changes to make it possible to suspend the reception of asylum applications.

"We have shortcomings in our legislation. We must be able to stop and suspend the reception of asylum applications. We don't have that tool at the moment," Orpo said.

The Finns Party also demanded that an emergency measure be enacted, under which asylum applications would not be accepted during exceptional circumstances.

Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) condemned the actions of Belarus, calling them an attack on the European Union. According to Marin, it is worth looking into whether there is a need for revision in Finnish legislation.

"In such a similar situation, the Finnish government would act. We do not accept such action at that border, and we will not accept it at our own borders. It is important that the EU is united on this issue and supports these countries," Marin said.