The controversy began with former Interior Minister Kai Mykkänen, currently raised by Kokoomus, an opposition MP from the National Coalition Party, saying a fence might need to be built on the Finnish-Russian border.
#ICYMI – The situation on the Poland-#Belarus border has sparked a political duel in Finland, with a clear divide emerging over the idea of building a fence at the Finnish-Russian border. Pekka Vanttinen reports. * https://t.co/E4oX7nCcXC
– EURACTIV (@EURACTIV) November 21, 2021
He himself described the idea as “disgusting but inevitable.” he called according to Euractiv’s Helsinki correspondent, so he asked: should Finland follow the example of Estonia and Lithuania? “I’m not suggesting, I’m just asking how to deal with asylum seekers if our neighbor refuses to take them back,” Mykkänen explained.
The issue has been accused by both government and security experts of echoing trump populism.
“The Coalition cannot take this seriously. Would you be willing to invest that much money in a 1,300-kilometer-long fence? A fence against a hybrid attack? ” Matias Mäkynen, Vice-President of the Social Democrats, responded.
An issue that arouses passionate emotions in Finland
“Finland must prevent foreign countries from experimenting with hybrid influence by exploiting asylum seekers” – he struck the iron Kai Mykkänen, leader of the Kokoomus parliamentary group.
When @KaiMykkanen last week suggested that a fence should be built on part of the eastern border to prevent hybrid interference;
– Juho Romakkaniemi (@Romakka) November 17, 2021
In Finland, a vote of confidence awaits the government. The chances of being overthrown are likely to be slim – analysts say.
The opposition does not have a parliamentary majority to overthrow the government alone. However, raising national security concerns about Russia is a hot topic in Finland.
Mykkänen, the interior minister of the previous government, says he only wants to ensure that Finland’s neighbors “do not have the means to dismantle the asylum system and abuse it into a hybrid operation motivated by their hostile foreign policy goals”.
Kokoomus is concerned about national security, but the Finnish anti-immigration party has long been demanding the closure of borders to stop the influx of asylum seekers from outside the union, they say.
The Finnish reservations are not unfounded: in January and February 2016, nearly a thousand migrants arrived at the Arctic border post between Finland and Russia. According to Finnish authorities, the Russian authorities, as on the Belarusian-Polish border today, transported migrants by bus and placed them in hotels on their tumultuous northern route and then provided them with instructions on how to cross the border to seek asylum.
Many believe that this was Russia’s first and so far hybrid attack on an EU member state – although Finnish officials and politicians at the time did not want to call it that.
The action was described as a “concept-wise” operation by a staff member at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs.
Russia had to show without fingerprints that it could start a flood of migrants and then shut it down again
Charly told Salonius-Paster.
The situation was not helped by the fact that a few days before the Minister of the Interior and then the Minister of Foreign Affairs suggested that Finland’s borders should always be open to asylum seekers, in accordance with its international obligations, and then dance back a day later.
In practice, it would be extremely difficult to erect a fence in the dense wooded terrain that stretches much of the boundary line, which is only exacerbated by the high construction costs, and patrols and maintenance are astonishingly labor-intensive.
The head of the Finnish Border Guard’s Risk Analysis Center has so far put an end to the debate.
Closing the borders does not fit into Finland’s legal framework and would incur an astronomical cost, Mikko Lehmus said.
In Estonia, the cost of building a fence was 500-1000 euros per meter.
(Cover image: Migrants entering the European Union on the Belarusian side of the barbed wire fence protecting the Polish border, in the foreground a Polish soldier in the Kuznica area of eastern Poland on November 8, 2021. Photo: MTI / EPA / Polish 16th Mechanized Division)