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Prime Minister Orpo and European Commission President von der Leyen visit Finland’s eastern border

Government Communications Department
Publication date 19.4.2024 12.37
Press release
Prime Minister Orpo and European Commission President von der Leyen travelling in a helicopter.

On Friday 19 April, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen paid a visit to the Imatra border crossing point to learn more about the situation at Finland’s eastern border. From there, they headed to the Old Town Hall in Lappeenranta, where they continued the bilateral discussions they had started the day before on their flight from Brussels after the special European Council.

The main purpose of the visit was for Commission President von der Leyen to learn about Russia’s instrumentalisation of migration to Finland and the measures being taken to combat it. Prime Minister Orpo and President von der Leyen flew from Lappeenranta in a Border Guard helicopter to the Imatra border crossing point and the Pelkola Border Guard station, where a fence of about three kilometres built as part of a pilot project has now been taken into use. Minister of the Interior Mari Rantanen and the Border Guard gave an overview of the situation at the border.
“The official border crossing points at the eastern border are now closed. With the arrival of spring and milder weather, there is a growing risk that Russia will encourage people to try to cross the border into Finland illegally between official crossing points,” said Prime Minister Orpo.
During the visit, Prime Minister Orpo told President von der Leyen about the Government’s draft act on temporary measures to combat instrumentalised migration.

“I hope that in the future, we will have an EU-wide solution in place to protect Member States being targeted by instrumentalised migration,” said Prime Minister Orpo.

Prime Minister Orpo stressed the importance of keeping all of Finland viable and inhabited, including from the perspective of security policy. He told President von der Leyen about the situation in Eastern Finland and the additional challenges brought on by the lack of border traffic in Eastern Finland due to Russia’s instrumentalisation of migration to Finland.

“Keeping Eastern Finland inhabited is very important for Finland. It is essential for this to be taken into account in EU funding and in the programme for the next Commission. This was our main message to Commission President von der Leyen. Finland and other EU Member States that share a border with Russia also need the support of the Union to improve our border security. This is about safeguarding the external border of the EU as a whole,” Prime Minister Orpo noted.

Prime Minister Orpo and Commission President von der Leyen also discussed Finland’s objectives for the EU’s next strategic agenda and the security situation in Europe.

Inquiries: Tuomas Tikkanen, Special Adviser (EU Affairs), tel. +358 40 523 5768 and Anne Sjöholm, Head of Communications for EU Affairs, tel. +358 40 537 07 33, Prime Minister’s Office