Thursday, October 27, 2005

Border control

Originally uploaded by Oop.
I am at the moment in Krakow organising a workshop for journalists and photographers on borders. We are opening an exhibition tomorrow with 20 reportages on the subject done by young talented photographers and journalists from Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine.

Over dinner we had today a discussion on entering the European Union area. I felt ashamed and for a reason. I cannot imagine how it feels when you are treated at the embassy as a potential criminal. It is humiliating.

Well, I had my border incident today when I was travelling towards Krakow via Munich. I had a tight schedule (30 minutes for the change) so I started running the moment I got out of the bus at the terminal door. When I was getting on the escalator, some shouted HALT and grabbed my bag. This wifebeater-looking guy showed me a card indicating that he was from the police. This was the discussion.
- Ausweis! Passport!
- Well, uh, here.
- Why are you travelling from Amsterdam?
- I live there.
- And where are you going?
- To Krakow.
- How long are you going to stay there?
- Until Sunday.
- Are you visiting family?
- No, I am not Polish. I am Finnish. And I am travelling on business.
Then he grunted and gave me my passport back.

Hmm...maybe it was a standard check. But I can't help posing the following questions:
- Why did he pick the guy with the cap and backpack and not one of the businessmen?
- Why did it seem that he lost his interest when he found out I wasn't Polish but from a "safe" country like Finland?


soopa said...

Because it is more likely that you are ok if you are from Finland. The stops/halts are never trully randomized, they are told what kind of behaviour and what type of persons to look more closely. It's the only way they can do their job even remotely effectively. If they would stop people and continue questioning without that kind of safe countries etc., we would need many times more guards/police etc.

Profiling is effective.

Teea said...

It must be your new haircut. ;)

Anonymous said...

...which we have yet to see a picture of.


TyskJohan said...

As I have two passports, I like to test the airports I pass through more frequently to see the different reactions. It really depends on the country you're travelling to. It also shows that some border agents seem to be unaware of the fact that Sweden (and Norway) are a part of Schengen...