Finland PM: Wide political support for Russia border fence

Oct 18, 2022, 8:53 AM | Updated: 10:13 am
Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrives for a meeting of the European Political Community at P...

Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marin arrives for a meeting of the European Political Community at Prague Castle in Prague, Czech Republic, Thursday, Oct 6, 2022. Leaders from around 44 countries are gathering Thursday to launch a "European Political Community" aimed at boosting security and economic prosperity across the continent, with Russia the one major European power not invited. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

(AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

HELSINKI (AP) — Finland’s prime minister said Tuesday she was convinced that there is a “wide support” within the Parliament to build a fence on the Nordic country’s border with Russia as proposed by the Finnish border guard officials.

“It is a question of securing proper surveillance of Finland’s (eastern) border in the future,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin told reporters at the legislature before a meeting with parliamentary groups on the border fence issue.

The Finnish Border Guard had earlier suggested covering parts of the 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border Finland shares with Russia, the longest of any European Union member, to help in preventing possible large-scale and illegal migration — a concern that has grown in Helsinki amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Based on a risk analysis by border officials, the fence would be up to 260 kilometers (162 miles) long in total and cover areas that have been identified as potential risks for large-scale migration from Russia.

The main parts of the fence would be erected in southeastern Finland, where most border traffic to and from Russia takes place, but some sections are likely be built also around border stations in the north.

The construction of the fence would take up to four years and is expected to cost several hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in total, according to Finnish news agency STT. Finnish media reported there is support for the project from parties in Marin’s center-left coalition government and the opposition alike.

A pilot section of the fence running the length of around three kilometers (two miles) will be decided on soon and built quickly, but the decision of the entire fence project may be postponed to the next government as Finland holds a general election in April 2023.

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Finland PM: Wide political support for Russia border fence