Finland, Russia aim at smoother border traffic

The Salla station is one of the northernmost checkpoint on the Finnish-Russian border.

A cross-administrative border traffic working group is established to facilitate trade and travelling between the countries.


The new working group is to enhance functionality of border traffic, the border crossing stations and the relevant traffic routes, a press release from the Finnish Foreign Ministry informs. The decision to establish the body was taken in last week’s session in a Finnish-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation.

“Russian tourism is extremely important for Finland, and last year the border between our countries was crossed 12 million times, which is a new record. With the help of the working group, we want to expedite development of border infrastructure and eliminate bottlenecks,” says Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb, who co-chaired the meeting with Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitri Kozak.

The Border Traffic working group will be the lastest of a total of 15 groups working under the Intergovernental Commission.

The number of visas issued to Russian citizens to enter Finland last year hit a new all-time high of more than 1,3 million. That was 95 percent of all visas issued to Finland world-wide in 2012, BarentsObserver reported.

Murmansk had the sharpest increase among all Finnish visa-offices in Russia in 2012 with a 37 percent growth. A total of 63,488 visas were issued by Finland’s Consulate branch-office, up from 46,364 the previous year. The visa-processing office in St. Petersburg issued for the first time more than one million visas in a year.

At the same time, more and more Russians visit Finland for shopping and recreation. As reported by BarentsObserver, in 2012 Russians spent a total of €1.2 billion in the country, a 39.5 percent increase from 2011