Russians want to expedite opening of new border-crossing point in Parikkala
Finnish Customs and Border Guard are less enthusiastic, wanting to expand other border-crossing points first
Russia would like to speed up the opening of an international border-crossing point in Parikkala.
The Parikkala issue will be one of the items on the agenda of the November meeting between the Finnish and Russian heads of state, reckoned Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Rumyantsev at a Thursday seminar organised by the Russian Embassy in Helsinki.
Andrei Nelidov, head of the Russian Republic of Karelia, hoped in turn that the Parikkala border-crossing point could be opened to traffic already in 2012.
“I do not believe that this would be an enormous task for the EU and Russia.”
Various unions and municipalities in the Southern Savo and Southern Karelia regions are promoting the matter strongly.
Etelä-Savo Regional Council Executive Director Matti Viialainen wished that a decision regarding the crossing point could be reached in connection with the December meeting between the Prime Ministers of the two countries.
For their part, the Finnish Customs and Border Guard are not so keen on the idea.
According to Tommi Kivilaakso, the Director of the Eastern Customs District, the Customs does not advocate the opening of Parikkala before 2016.
The Border Guard and Customs would first like to see the busy Vaalimaa, Nuijamaa, and Imatra crossing points being expanded.
According to Viialainen, however, Parikkala does not compete with the three, for its funding could come from the EU’s ENPI (European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument) programme.
Russia is also prepared to fund the undertaking from its side.
Currently there is a temporary border-crossing point in Parikkala that serves timber transportation.
According to a Ministry of Transport and Communications policy statement, Parikkala will be the next location to open for border-crossing.
Mari Kiviniemi (Centre Party), now Finland's Prime Minister, promised that she would promote the opening of the crossing point when she visited Parikkala as the Minister of Public Administration and Local Government in April.
According to reports, 350,000 border-crossings could take place in Parikkala each year.
The undertaking would quickly pay itself back.
The opening of the border in Parikkala would shorten the journey from Helsinki to Petrozavodsk by up to a hundred kilometres.
According to Andrei Nelidov, Russia will begin to build a new road from Priozersk (Käkisalmi in Finnish) to Sortavala next year. The distance from the route to the border-crossing point is only five kilometres.
In Nelidov's view, the crossing point would serve especially the burgeoning Russian tourism business in south-eastern Finland.
Previously in HS International Edition:
President Halonen to make state visit to Russia in November (26.10.2010)
Cross-border traffic breaks new records (18.10.2010)