Finland to close border with Russia for two weeks, prime minister announces – Europe live | Netherlands

Finnish border with Russia to be closed for two weeks, prime minister announces

Finnish prime minister Petteri Orpo has announced that the last remaining open border crossing with Russia will be closed this week.

The country’s eastern border will be closed from Thursday for two weeks, he said, Yle reported.

Finland has accused Russia over the past days of orchestrating the arrival of people from third countries at its border.

Freight traffic will be allowed between the two countries.

Orpo said:

Our aim is that the exceptional situation at the eastern border of Finland returns back to normal as soon as possible. We don’t accept any attempts to undermine our national security.

Mari Rantanen, Finland’s interior minister, added:

We have taken this decision to protect Finland’s national security against this Russian hybrid operation.

Asylum seekers are accompanied by Finnish border police personnel as they arrive at the Raja-Jooseppi border station in Lapland, northern Finland, 27 November 2023. Photograph: Tomi Hanninen/EPA

Key events

Mikko Hautala, the Finnish ambassador in Washington, said the country is temporarily closing all border-crossings with Russia “to stop Russia’s brutal abuse of third-country asylum seekers.”

“The weather is getting very cold and we must put an end to this operation,” he stressed.

Finland temporarily closes all border-crossings with Russia to stop Russia’s brutal abuse of third-country asylum seekers. The weather is getting very cold and we must put an end to this operation. https://t.co/xQsCV6jqmY

— Mikko Hautala 🇫🇮 (@FINambUS) November 28, 2023

Here are photos from around Europe today.

Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel, Romania’s Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Finland’s Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen, Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot pose for pictures as they attend a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 28, 2023.
Canada’s Foreign Minister Melanie Joly, Belgium’s Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib, France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, Bulgaria’s Foreign Minister Mariya Gabriel, Romania’s Foreign Minister Luminita Odobescu, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Finland’s Foreign Minister Elina Valtonen, Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot pose for pictures as they attend a NATO foreign ministers meeting at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium November 28, 2023. Photograph: Yves Herman/Reuters
Visitors look at the Elgin marbles also known as the Parthenon marbles, at the British Museum in London, Britain, 28 November 2023. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has canceled a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over a disagreement involving the Parthenon marbles. The marbles are a collection of Ancient Greek sculptures from the Parthenon and other structures from the Acropolis in Athens. They were removed from Ottoman Greece to Britain by 7th Earl of Elgin, and now held in the British Museum. Greece would like to see the marbles returned to Greece.
Visitors look at the Elgin marbles also known as the Parthenon marbles, at the British Museum in London, Britain, 28 November 2023. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has canceled a meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over a disagreement involving the Parthenon marbles. The marbles are a collection of Ancient Greek sculptures from the Parthenon and other structures from the Acropolis in Athens. They were removed from Ottoman Greece to Britain by 7th Earl of Elgin, and now held in the British Museum. Greece would like to see the marbles returned to Greece. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
Speaker of the House Vera Bergkamp (L) and the new scout Ronald Plasterk (R), during the signing in the House of Representatives in The Hague, The Netherlands, 28 November 2023. Plasterk’s task is to hold discussions with the factions and investigate what coalition options are available to form a new Cabinet.
The Netherlands’ speaker of the House Vera Bergkamp (L) and the new scout Ronald Plasterk (R), during the signing in the House of Representatives in The Hague, The Netherlands, 28 November 2023. Plasterk’s task is to hold discussions with the factions and investigate what coalition options are available to form a new Cabinet. Photograph: Robin van Lonkhuijsen/EPA

Finnish border with Russia to be closed for two weeks, prime minister announces

Finnish prime minister Petteri Orpo has announced that the last remaining open border crossing with Russia will be closed this week.

The country’s eastern border will be closed from Thursday for two weeks, he said, Yle reported.

Finland has accused Russia over the past days of orchestrating the arrival of people from third countries at its border.

Freight traffic will be allowed between the two countries.

Orpo said:

Our aim is that the exceptional situation at the eastern border of Finland returns back to normal as soon as possible. We don’t accept any attempts to undermine our national security.

Mari Rantanen, Finland’s interior minister, added:

We have taken this decision to protect Finland’s national security against this Russian hybrid operation.

Asylum seekers are accompanied by Finnish border police personnel as they arrive at the Raja-Jooseppi border station in Lapland, northern Finland, 27 November 2023.
Asylum seekers are accompanied by Finnish border police personnel as they arrive at the Raja-Jooseppi border station in Lapland, northern Finland, 27 November 2023. Photograph: Tomi Hanninen/EPA

Baltic ministers pull out of OSCE meeting over Russia concerns

The foreign ministers of the Baltic states have decided not to attend the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) ministerial council in Skopje, the three politician said in a statement today.

We have also seen nothing but Russia’s obstructive behavior within the OSCE itself – first, by blocking any OSCE presence and activities in Ukraine, then by blocking Estonia’s 2024 chairmanship on completely fabricated reasons and now by blocking constructive solutions for keeping the organization alive and functional.

We deeply regret the decision enabling the personal participation of Russian Foreign Minister S. Lavrov at the 30th Session of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Skopje. It will only provide Russia with yet another propaganda opportunity.

Nato secretary general race heats up

The competition is on for who will replace Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.

Krišjānis Kariņš, Latvia’s foreign minister and a former prime minister, is a contender for the job – along with Estonia’s prime minister, Kaja Kallas, and Dutch outgoing prime minister Mark Rutte.

Speaking at Nato today, Kariņš – who grew up in the US – outlined the characteristics he said the next secretary general should have:

Nato needs a proven consensus-builder. We are going to have 32 countries, keeping 32 countries together on any topic is a big challenge, and we need a consensus-builder that can work with any and all allies to move everyone forward in the same direction.

Second, I think it’s important that the next secretary general would come from a country … that has a proven track record of investing in his or her own military spending, so investing the 2% of GDP or above. I think that’s important as a clear signal to all allies that this really is important to us.

It also is clear that the next secretary general has to have a clear vision on the future role of Nato – how it’s going to expand, how it’s going to be working to contain Russia. Acknowledging the threat not in a way that is raising panic, but simply acknowledging the very real threat that Russia is and working with allies to contain Russia. It is doable, we can do it if we are calm but very determined.

Former minister appointed Dutch ‘scout’ for post-election talks

Ronald Plasterk, a former minister representing the Labour (PvdA) party, has been appointed the new ‘scout’ for post-election talks in the Netherlands.

His appointment follows the resignation yesterday of the first scout.

Details emerge on Gibraltar deal

Sam Jones

Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, has said he wants a deal on Gibraltar to be signed tomorrow, and that he will hold talks with his British counterpart on the subject today.

According to Spain’s Efe news agency, the deal will include plans to turn the Campo de Gibraltar – the Spanish area around Gibraltar – into a “zone of shared prosperity” that would mean the elimination of the border fence so as to allow the movement of people and goods between the territory and the EU.

Albares said the aim was to establish a new, post-Brexit legal framework to “lay the foundations for a stable relationship between Spain and the EU on the one hand and the territory of Gibraltar, through the UK, on the other”.

According to the Spanish foreign ministry, the deal would allow Spain to use the Schengen agreement to control Gibraltar’s external borders. It would also allow Spain to protect and improve the rights of cross-border workers and would facilitate the free movement of goods “without increasing the risks for the EU internal market”.

The agreement would also include steps to combat money laundering and guarantee environmental protection and nuclear safety standards.

The primary aim, Albares said, was “the defence and protection of the interests and rights” of Spanish citizens – and, in particular, of the 270,000 people who live in the Campo de Gibraltar.

The minister was also careful to stress that Spain’s position on Gibraltar’s sovereignty remained unchanged.

He said:

Neither the future agreement, nor any option or measure taken in application or as a result thereof, imply or will imply any renouncing or modification of the legal position of Spain with respect to sovereignty and jurisdiction in relation to Gibraltar.

Spain wants Gibraltar agreement signed tomorrow, minister says

Sam Jones

Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares, said this morning that he would meet the British foreign secretary, David Cameron, today in Brussels and that he wanted a post-Brexit agreement on the status of Gibraltar to be sealed tomorrow.

“I had my first contact yesterday with the British foreign minister about the Gibraltar issue and both of us have said that we have to get moving as soon as possible,” the Spanish minister said in an interview with the television channel Telecinco.

Both Albares and Cameron will be attending a Nato foreign ministers’ meeting, scheduled for today and tomorrow.

“We put a generous and balanced deal on the table many months ago, which will be the starting point. What Spain wants is for this deal to be signed tomorrow,” Albares said.

Tom van der Meer, a professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, said today that when it comes to the Dutch election results, there is no international domino effect.

“I have been asked a few times: what does this result mean for the success of the radical right in other European countries? Two answers,” he said.

There is no international domino effect, where success in country A leads to success in country B. Columnists also pitched this myth in 2017.

And, the academic added, the far-right Party for Freedom(PVV)’s performance is based on ongoing concerns about migration. He said:

The PVV’s gain is based on substantive concerns about migration (of which the PVV is the issue owner). These concerns are no greater than in previous years. The dynamics of the PVV’s growth show the importance of the campaign, in which other parties focused on migration and the PVV.

Al een paar keer de vraag gehad: Wat betekent deze uitslag voor het succes van radicaal-rechts in andere Europese landen?
Twee antwoorden.
1. Er is geen internationaal domino-effect, waarbij succes in land A leidt tot succes in land B. Die mythe pitchten columnisten ook in 2017.

— Tom van der Meer (@TomWGvdMeer) November 28, 2023

EU Commission president calls for ‘tough’ response to migrant smuggling

Speaking at an international conference this morning on a global alliance to counter migrant smuggling, the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The first track we will work on is to prevent and dissuade people from entrusting their life to smugglers.”

The commission chief said:

We must be tough and united in our response to the crime of smuggling. We must all put in place the right legislation. We must get our law enforcement agencies and prosecution services to work together. We must seize the assets used by criminals. We must shut down the international supply chains and financial flows of criminal groups. And we can only do this together.

Von der Leyen also noted that “we will update the definition of the crime of migrant smuggling” and “toughen the sanctions and we will extend our jurisdictional reach”.

She also said the EU wanted to step up cooperation with international partners, adding:

We must offer more legal alternatives to the people who want to seek fortune abroad. This is an interest we all share.

Senay Boztas

The far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders admitted on Monday that he was not off to a “dream start” in his attempts to form a government, after the man he appointed to oversee coalition talks quit over fraud allegations before getting started in the role.

As leader of the biggest party, and as is customary in Dutch politics, Wilders had last week engaged the PVV senator Gom van Strien to act as his choice of “scout” – a person tasked with shuttling between party leaders to clinch a deal.

However, allegations emerged in the NRC Handelsblad newspaper over the weekend that Van Strien was one of several people accused by Utrecht Holdings of “irregular” handling of commercial spin-offs from Utrecht University and University Medical Center Utrecht. While Van Strien has rejected any questions over his integrity and denied any allegation of fraud, he withdrew from the political process on Monday morning.

Dutch coalition processes typically take months and it is not unusual for them to be interrupted by party politics. Wilders has said he will look for a new scout “with more distance from politics” to attend the first meetings, which will be with him, the GreenLeft/Labour leader, Frans Timmermans, the VVD leader, Dilan Yeşilgöz-Zegerius, and the head of the liberal democratic D66, Rob Jetten.

Although a prospective government could be made from the PVV, the rightwing VVD (current prime minister Mark Rutte’s party), the New Social Contract party led by Pieter Omtzigt, and the Dutch Farmer Citizen Movement (BBB), led by Caroline van der Plas, only the BBB has given a strong nod.

Having previously excluded Wilders, Omtzigt has said the result must be respected and his party would “take responsibility”. Yeşilgöz-Zegerius has already told media that she would not serve in a government under Wilders but would be willing to work in a confidence and supply arrangement.

Read the full story here.

Wilders argues he is there for ‘everyone’ amid uncertainty over government formation

Geert Wilders, the Dutch far-right leader whose Party for Freedom (PVV) won the most seats in last week’s election, is upping efforts to portray himself as an acceptable possible prime minister.

The Party for Freedom is a “broad” people’s party, he wrote on social media this morning.

“2.4 million people voted for us. High and low educated, native and immigrant, employed, retired, young and old. From the city, the countryside,” he wrote, adding: “The PVV is there for everyone”.

But despite his strong election performance, Wilders’ views remain controversial – and it is unclear if the PVV can reach agreements with other parties to form a coalition.

Geert Wildersmeets the press as Dutch parties’ lead candidates meet for the first time after elections
Geert Wildersmeets the press as Dutch parties’ lead candidates meet for the first time after elections. Photograph: Piroschka van de Wouw/Reuters

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