HELSINKI – The regional border guard authority for southeastern Finland does not expect an increase in cross-border traffic from Russia from Monday, when the Baltic states and Poland close their borders to Russian citizens traveling on tourist visas.
The move will make the Finnish-Russian border the only land border across which Russians can enter the EU with a tourist visa.
Taneli Repo, director general of the border guard for southeastern Finland, told news agency STT that no increase in cross-border traffic is expected, but they will keep an eye on the situation and, if necessary, extra personnel will be brought in.
Finland significantly limited the number of tourist visas it grants to Russians as of September, but has not completely discontinued the issuance of visas for Russian tourists. According to Repo, the restrictions have not yet changed the number of people crossing the border.
Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland announced on Sept. 8 that they will limit the access of Russian citizens to their territory and thus also to the whole Schengen area.
According to the four countries, there may be people among the Russians crossing the border who aim to undermine the security of their countries.
In addition, a joint statement by the heads of government of the four countries pointed out that the control of Europe's external border requires a considerable amount of resources. They also consider it unsustainable that citizens of the aggressor state can travel freely in Europe.
The Baltic countries and Poland restrict the travel of Russian citizens for tourism and business purposes. Russian citizens can still enter these countries on tourist visas for humanitarian or family reasons.
During question time in parliament on Thursday, Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin responded to questions from the opposition about why Finland has not prevented Russian tourists from traveling through Finland.
According to Marin, she said to Ylva Johansson, the European commissioner for home affairs, that Finland hopes for common solutions and that the use of tourist visas for Russian citizens in the EU could be banned completely.
Marin said the government of Finland has already made decisions on how to slow down the process of issuing visas so that the number of Russian tourists arriving with visas issued by Finland would be reduced to a minimum.