Iltalehti asked the major parties whether all passenger traffic should be suspended at the eastern border. The parties say no.
The picture shows the Vaalimaa border station in July without the freedom of passenger traffic on the border between Finland and Russia. Jarmo Sipilä[email protected]
[email protected] at 20:32
- The biggest parties are at least not yet ready to suspend passenger traffic on the eastern border. They want to limit the issuing of new tourist visas.
- The government is criticized for not being active enough in limiting the arrival of tourists.
- The parties hope for joint actions from the EU for the entire Schengen area, but there is no desire also take action, even if the EU does not make policies.
The largest parliamentary parties have no desire to suspend all passenger traffic on the Russian-Finnish border, Iltalehte is told.
Russia lifted its corona-era travel restrictions in mid-July. Since then, Russians have entered Finland with tourist visas.
Members of Parliament from different parties have already said earlier this week that they broadly support limiting the issuance of new tourist visas. However, most of the ministers are on vacation and the measures have not been decided.
Jussi Tanner, consul chief of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Iltalehti that the only quick way to intervene in Russian tourism would be to close the border between Finland and Russia at least to passenger traffic. Russians have about 90,000 multiple-entry visas with which they could travel to Finland, even if the processing of new visas were stopped.
Iltalehti asked the representatives of the four largest parties about their desire to close passenger traffic to Finland and what kind of solutions should be made.< /p>
"Should have been more proactive”
Kokoomus MP Jukka Kopra says that the Kokoomush parliamentary group does not yet have a position on whether Cut off passenger traffic on the border between Finland and Russia.
– Personally, I think that the government should have been more proactive and formed a line even before the corona restrictions were abandoned, says Kopra.
Jukka Kopra, Member of Parliament of the Coalition. Mikko Huisko
According to Kopra, in the party's preliminary reports, it was thought that a certain type of traffic would be reasonable to maintain. For example, to be able to come to Finland from Russia to meet close relatives, for health reasons or to visit owned apartments in Finland. The coalition group is of the opinion that the issuance of new tourist visas should be limited.
If a traveler from outside the Schengen area receives a Schengen visa, the person is entitled to travel throughout the entire area. That is why many parties are calling for a common EU line.
– We are of the opinion that Finland should act on its own initiative in this, in addition to influencing the EU's direction and seeking an EU-level solution, Kopra says.
Kopra estimates that the EU may also suspend the use of valid visas.
– If and when the EU starts to take care of the matter and if the EU tightens the way of issuing visas, then the EU will probably also freeze the valid visas, Kopra says.
"Not an acute matter”
< p class="paragraph">Chairman of the Fundamental Finns parliamentary group, Ville Tavio, tells Iltalehti briefly that he is not in favor of closing the Russian border to passenger traffic.
– However, I don't think a full border closure is necessary. People have different reasons for crossing the border, such as family relationships, so judgment must be used, Tavio says.
Ville Tavio, Member of Parliament for Fundamental Finns and chairman of the parliamentary group. Mikko Huisko
Perussuomalaiset has previously said that he supports ending the issuance of tourist visas to Russian citizens. Tavio repeats this position.
– It does not seem justified that the citizens of Russia, which is waging a war of aggression, vacation freely in Western countries, says Tavio.
The city center also does not have desire to stop all passenger traffic.
– It is clear that we have different regulations and quickly stopping issuing visas will have no effect. But stopping passenger or goods traffic is a question that needs to be considered more thoroughly, says the vice-chairman of the centre, Markus Lohi.
However, Lohi believes that Finland could make the EU an unusual decision, as for example Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have decided not to issue tourist visas to Russians.
– The center is ready for the decision that we will look from our own point of view if joint decisions cannot be made in the EU.
Lohi says that the government has discussed and is discussing the tourism of Russian tourists, but the issue is not “so acute”.
However, tourists keep coming from there, so how is the situation not acute?
– Well, not that – you have to remember that tourists come and many Finns think that it's a shame that you can come freely from Russia, if you have a visa, for shopping and as tourists. But there is no such acute danger or harm to Finland that would require the suspension of the ministers' vacations or something similar, Lohi answers. Antti MannermaaSDP Member of Parliament and Vice President Niina Malm. Kaisa Vehkalahti
SDP vice-president, MP Niina Malmwould also primarily like to focus on restricting tourist visas.
– The government should primarily investigate the measures regarding the restriction of tourist visas, Malm tells Iltalehti.
According to Malm, when investigating visa restrictions, it would be the effects on the Russian opposition's and civil society's operational possibilities must also be assessed.
– It should also be possible to deviate from possible restrictions for reasons related to family ties or health, says Malm.
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