The migrant crisis in Finland: how negotiations with Russia have halted the wave of refugees

Ten times more migrants

In 2015, Finland received a total of almost 32.5 thousand. asylum applications. This is an unprecedented number, about ten times higher than in any of the previous 30 years.

Finland seemed attractive to migrants at the time due to relatively high social benefits and the relatively short asylum procedures in place at the time.

AFP / “Scanpix” nuotr./Migrantai Storskogo dots

The migrant crisis peaked in September of that year, when several hundred migrants arrived in Finland from Sweden. At the same time, the number of asylum seekers at the two Finnish-Russian border posts has risen sharply.

Migrants from Russia – a means of pressure

The movement of migrants from Sweden was seen as part of a common problem in the European Union, which also requires a common solution for the whole community. At that time, migrants from Russia in Finland were perceived as a means of pressure, even though they accounted for only a few percent of all arrivals.

Finland began to see the influx of migrants as a tool of Russian pressure on Helsinki

“Finland has begun to see the influx of migrants as a tool of Russian pressure on Helsinki and part of the tension between Russia and the West. It was also seen as a Russian operation designed to test Finland’s administrative capacity and public response, “the Center for Eastern Studies in Warsaw wrote at the time.

When migrants arrived from Russia, it became clear that many of them had not fled war or poverty, but had lived in Russia for some time before. The crisis deepened further in January and February 2016, when Norway, which has a border of almost 200 kilometers with Russia, decided not to accept asylum applications from migrants whose documents confirmed their previous lives in Russia.

Scanpix / AP photo / Finnish-Russian border crossing on the island in northern Finland

Scanpix / AP photo / Finnish-Russian border crossing on the island in northern Finland

Throughout 2015, about 700 asylum seekers arrived in Finland from Russia, but this number was exceeded in the first two months of 2016 – about 60,000 migrants crossed the border in 60 days and applied for asylum in Finland.

Finland has resolved the crisis through negotiations with Russia, but has been forced to make significant sacrifices.


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