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Finland, Russia agree to cooperate to solve refugee problem

January 27, 11:58 UTC+3 HELSINKI
Currently from 20 to 50 asylum seekers arrive in Finland daily, they mostly come from Russia
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© Panu Pohjola/Lehtikuva via AP

HELSINKI, January 27. /TASS/. Finland and Russia have agreed to find new ways of cooperation in solving the refugee problem, Finnish Interior Minister Petteri Orpo told a news conference on Wednesday following meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

"Despite the fact that illegal migration can be stopped on the basis of the existing bilateral agreements, they saw the need to agree on new documents," Orpo said. "We need new joint solutions."

Mechanism to return migrants to Russia from Finland working

According to the Finnish Interior Ministry official, the mechanism for returning migrants to Russia from Finland is currently working.

Paivi Nerg noted that cooperation in this field was based on the agreement between Russia and the European Union (EU).

"In December, we began negotiations on how this agreement will work under the circumstances. Norway held talks too. It is a common task to find a solution so that people who have no right of asylum in Finland can be returned to Russia. And this has been implemented. We returned a few dozen people, another 70 are waiting for their return," Nerg said.

"We have made some 100 negative decisions. These refugees are returning either to Russia or to the countries of their origin. In this context, the agreement is working now," she added.

Closing Russian-Finnish border because of refugees irrelevant now

Shutting the Russian-Finnish border because of the influx of refugees is not relevant at the moment, a Finnish Interior Ministry official told TASS.

"During the talks [between the interior ministers of Russia and Finland], the two sides confirmed that the crossing points along the border should not be closed, since we want Finnish and Russian citizens to move across the border normally, as before," Paivi Nerg said. "Even today’s problems do not make the use of such drastic measures relevant. That’s the opinion at the moment."

Earlier on Wednesday, Finnish Interior Minister Petteri Orpo said stability on the Finnish-Russian border had to be preserved. To do this, it is important for the two countries have to find a lasting solution to the refugee influx problem, he said following meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Kolokoltsev on Tuesday.

"I hope that we will find a long-term solution. It is important to preserve stability on our border as well as the opportunity to move across it that is important for both countries," Orpo said.

Currently from 20 to 50 asylum seekers arrive in Finland daily, they mostly come from Russia. According to Finnish border guard, in most cases migrants have no necessary documents to enter the country, in particular, Schengen visas. In spite of this, Russian border guards let them go to Finland, Helsinki says.

In all, about 32,500 refugees came to the country last year, mostly natives of Iraq. Most of them arrived through the Swedish-Finnish border in the north of the country, but many others chose other routes, such as travelling by ferry from Germany and across the border with Russia in northern Lapland. The Russian-Finish border has become the main route used by refugees to get to Finland.

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