The Finnish Government Temporarily Suspends the Visa Exemption Agreement Between Finland and Slovakia

The Finnish Government decided on 14 January to suspend the implementation of the visa exemption agreement with Slovakia for a period of six months. The suspension comes into effect on January 15 and will be applied until July 15. It is hoped that the suspension will curb the new influx of asylum seekers from Slovakia.

A total of 376 asylum seekers from Slovakia had arrived in Finland by 14 January, after the resumption of visa-free travel on 6 November 1999.

There are shortcomings in the living conditions of the Romany people in various regions in Europe, including Slovakia. Finland for its part has played an active role in various international organisations and particularly in the European Union to improve the conditions of the Romany people in Europe. These shortcomings can only be tackled and resolved at their source, in good cooperation at local and state level.

Despite the current problems Slovakia remains a democratic European country. The visa exemption agreement with Slovakia was concluded in order to facilitate a free movement of ordinary travellers between the two countries. Due to the continuing influx of asylum seekers, the Finnish Government was compelled to conclude that the situation is exceptional and with the present conditions the requirements for visa-free travel are not being met.