Issued by Tanner, Associated Press
HELSINKI (AP) – Finland’s parliament on Thursday passed an amended law on border security that would allow it to close crossing points with Russia amid fears that Moscow could send large numbers of migrants to the border.
The move by lawmakers comes just two days after Finland and Sweden signed formal joining protocols for NATO’s 30-member alliance – a result that has angered Russia. The bid for membership of the two Nordic countries was approved at the NATO summit in Madrid at the end of June.
The amendments, approved by Finnish lawmakers, will give the center-left government led by Prime Minister Sanaa Marin broad powers to limit border traffic in exceptional circumstances, especially on the 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, the longest among any EU member. .
The changes would allow Finland, a country of 5.5 million, to build barriers and fences along its border with Russia if necessary. Finnish President Sauli Ninisto will sign the amendment to the law on Friday.
The legal reform was prompted by government concerns that Russia would try to influence Finland by organizing large numbers of asylum-seekers across the border – something that happened at northern Finnish crossing points in 2015 and 2016 as Russian authorities reportedly admitted thousands of asylum seekers. There
Finland has become an observer member of NATO, but is not yet a full member, the risk of such a hybrid threat from Moscow is considered particularly high, with legislative approval pending in 30 member states.
Russia has repeatedly said over the past few years that it is against joining NATO in Helsinki and Stockholm. But both Finland and Sweden decided to join the alliance after Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February.
“The security situation in Finland and Europe has changed fundamentally in recent months, and in particular the risk of a different kind of hybrid impact has increased,” Finnish Justice Minister Anna-Maza Henriksen said in a statement.
“I am delighted that a new exception has been added to the Preparatory Act so quickly with the overwhelming support of Parliament, especially covering the hybrid threat,” he said.
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