Government decides to close the border in Southeast Finland
The Government has decided to close part of Finland's eastern border. The border crossing points of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala will be closed starting on 18 November 2023. Submission of applications for international protection at the land border between Finland and Russia will be concentrated at the border crossing points of Vartius and Salla. The Government decided on the matter at an session on Thursday. The decision will remain in force until 18 February 2024.
“We have acted decisively and swiftly so that the situation at the eastern border would not escalate. During the previous parliamentary term, amendments were made to the Border Guard Act precisely for such situations. These tools have now been used,” says Prime Minister Petteri Orpo.
“The closing of border crossing points at the eastern border will stop illegal entry into Finland. The Government is prepared to take even stronger measures if necessary,” says Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen.
There are indications that foreign authorities or other actors have played a role in facilitating the entry into Finland of persons who have crossed the border illegally.
Borders closed in Southeast Finland as of 18 November 2023
During the validity of the decision, people crossing the land border between Finland and Russia must use border crossing points other than those of Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, Imatra and Niirala. Finnish citizens must also use open border crossing points.
The submission of applications for international protection, i.e. asylum, at the land border between Finland and Russia, will be concentrated at the border crossing points of Vartius and Salla. People seeking to enter the country will be directed and guided to these locations.
Decision based on Border Guard Act
According to section 16 of the Border Guard Act, the Government may decide to close border crossing points for a fixed period or until further notice if it is necessary to prevent a serious threat to public order, national security or public health. The Government may also decide to centralise the submission of applications for international protection at one or more border crossing points if needed.
The Government and authorities are closely monitoring the situation at Finland’s eastern border. The content and scope of the decision will be regularly assessed as the situation develops. The decision will be repealed or amended if it is no longer necessary to prevent a serious threat to public order or national security.