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Sunday June 23, 2024

Finland to present plan to push back migrants on Russian border

By Reuters
May 20, 2024
Migrants seen on the Finnish border in this undated photo.— Reuters/file
Migrants seen on the Finnish border in this undated photo.— Reuters/file 

HELSINKI: Finland will propose a law next week allowing border agents to block asylum seekers trying to enter from Russia, the prime minister said on Sunday, a decision that could cause Helsinki to temporarily breach its international commitments.

Finland shut its border with Russia last year to stop a growing number of arrivals from countries including Syria and Somalia, and accused Moscow of weaponising migration against it and the European Union, an assertion the Kremlin denies.

Finland annoyed Russia last year by abandoning its long-held military non-alignment and joining the Nato alliance in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. It has also signed a bilateral defence pact with the United States.

The draft law proposed by the right-wing governing coalition acknowledges that turning migrants back to Russia without processing their asylum applications would be in breach of Finland’s international human rights commitments, but says its use will be temporary and limited.

Prime Minister Petteri Orpo said the proposal would go to parliament next week, where it will be submitted to the constitutional committee for review.