The Confederation of Finnish Industry has proposed a project for a special economic zone for Eastern Finland.

The chairman of the organization, Harri Broman, called the situation in this part of the country “serious and exceptional, both in terms of economy and security”.

He said that it is in the interest of the whole country, as well as the European Union (EU), that Eastern Finland “remains alive and populated”.

The special economic zone project is proposed for all six provinces in Eastern Finland – South Karelia, South Savo, Kainuu, Kymenlaakso, North Karelia and North Savo, according to a statement on the confederation’s website.

The Finnish government may make a decision on the issue as early as April, South Karelia’s provincial newspaper Etelä-Saimaa noted.

Members of the Finnish parliament noted that regions in eastern Finland have been hit hard by the closure of the border and the cessation of contacts with Russia. Finland is alarmed by the emptying of border regions and notes that the mass exodus of people creates security risks.

Finland’s new president Alexander Stubb will make his first regional trip after taking office on 27 March to Joensuu in North Karelia, 70 km from the Russian border, and will also visit the closed Niirala checkpoint.

Earlier, the head of Finland’s largest pension fund Varma, economist Risto Murto, said that the U-turn to the West was painful for the Finnish economy.

According to post-war international treaties, Russia retains the right to claim part of Finland’s territory in the event of aggressive military action on its part. This creates a tense situation between the two countries and causes uncertainty in territorial issues.

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