Finland and Russia discuss refugee crisis

The Raja-Jooseppi border crossing point with Russia in Finnish Lapland. (Vesa Toppari / Yle)
The Raja-Jooseppi border crossing point with Russia in Finnish Lapland. (Vesa Toppari / Yle)
Finland’s top Interior Ministry official is in Moscow Friday for talks with Russian authorities on issues including the refugee crisis.

The agenda also covers immigration via the Raja-Jooseppi and Salla border crossing points in the Far North.

Interior Ministry Permanent Secretary Päivi Nerg is scheduled to meet for talks with Russian Deputy Interior Minister Igor Zubov and the head of the Russian immigration service, Konstantin Romodanovski.

The parties will discuss the refugee situation, the fight against illegal immigration and procedures concerning the return of asylum seekers.

Lapland entry points

Nerg told Yle on Thursday that two concrete outcomes are expected from her visit. One concerns preparations for a later meeting between the interior ministers of the two countries, and the other a new agreement on cooperation between Finnish and Russian immigration services.

She said that a new agreement will lay out in greater detail “cooperation interfaces” in the changed asylum situation.

“A number of asylum seekers have arrived [in Finland] across the eastern border. Of course this matter is culminating concretely in an acute situation at Raja-Jooseppi and Salla,” said Päivi Nerg. “This is not the main reason [for the meeting] but it will, indeed, be discussed.”

Finland’s western border with Sweden is the main route of entry for asylum seekers into the country. However, this year hundreds have entered at border crossing points with Russia in eastern Lapland, and numbers have risen in recent weeks.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Should Canada have a plan for climate refugees?, Radio Canada International

Finland: North Finland town opens asylum seeker hub, Yle News

Norway:  Refugees find Arctic gate to Schengen, Barents Observer

Russia: Looking back at the 2010 Norway – Russia deal on Arctic borders, Barents Observer

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