Leaked memo: migrants may move towards borders of Estonia

Refugees and migrants gather near a check point on the Russian-Norwegian border outside Nickel (Nikel) settlement in Murmansk region, Russia, October 30, 2015. The flow of Middle Eastern migrants trying to reach Europe via the Russian Arctic slowed dramatically on October 29, partly due to a shortage of bicycles to cross the border, a source who deals with them told Reuters. According to officials, many Syrians obtain business or study visas to enter Russia and then travel through Moscow and Murmansk to Nickel, a town of some 12,000 population named after the metal mined there. REUTERS/Fyodor Porokhin

PHOTO: STRINGER/RUSSIA/REUTERS

Closure of the currently popular Balkan migration routes may put pressure on borders of Norway, Finland and the Baltics says a leaked Norwegian foreign ministry memo. 

The document compiled by foreign ministry deputy director and senior adviser in January which reached the Norwegian tabloid VG warns that in a couple of months the North-Norwegian border point in Storskog may come under migrant pressure. After Oslo announced it would be sending back to Russia all migrants coming from there who were in Russia legally, the situation at the border has been relatively calm.  

This however may be just the calm before the storm according to the the ten-page memo which claims the storm will hit Europe within upcoming half year. «The closure of Balkan route may in near months lead to increasing pressure on Storskog or Finland / Baltic States,» reads the classified memo.

Even Finnish politicians led by President Sauli Niinistö have hinted that should Turkey close its borders, an increasing number of migrants may opt to go via Russia thus bringing pressure on Finland and the Baltics as well.

«Up to now, refugees have mainly moved via Russia to Norway and Finland, but there is no guarantee that in the future they might not be directed to Estonia and Latvia also,» Estonian MEP Urmas Paet warned recently, saying that Estonia should be ready for that.

At the end of February, Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) said they had detected no signs of a potential deluge of refugees across the Russian border, but they have prepared for the scenario.

The Norwegian document also warns against consequences of fracture of European cooperation for which Norway may not be totally prepared. «Probably, the Norwegian public opinion is not mentally prepared for the full weight of the migration crisis,» says the document.

The memo passes a severe assessment on relations between European states, referring to political polarisation and the strengthening of extremism. Also, they take note of splits between Southern, Eastern and Western Europe while pointing at nationalist and anti-U policies in key Eastern European states.

Furthermore, the memo warns against potential repeat of terrorist attacks in European counties, seeing Germany and Swede as especially vulnerable due to large numbers of refugees received.

Norwegian foreign ministry desired not to comment on the memo. They did tell VG, however, that it was an in-house document which never reached the foreign minister’s table. It is not known how the document leaked into media but its timing coincides with a discussion on asylum and immigration policy in Norwegian parliament.

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