Osmo Soininvaara is an entrepreneur and a writer who has had a brilliant political life. He has been during 12 years a member of the Finnish Parliament, and he served as Minister of Health on Social Services in Lipponen’s second cabinet between 14 April 2000 and 19 April 2002. He was the leader of the Greens party from 2001 to 2005. Currently, he has a popular blog and has authorized Finland politics to use translated versions of his posts.
The discussion about the refugee situation is so infected that the issue cannot be discussed in public almost at all. The issue is not either at all helped by the so called immigrant critics taking part in the discussion by for example saying they hope the immigrant will rape you! . Nobody with self-respect would touch such a topic even with a long stick.
However, it is stupid to let the opponents to refugees decide your thinking through negation: it’s not possible to be of the same opinion about anything as those lunatics. Due to this clever trap the opposition to smoking in Germany still has a headwind: Hitler was after all opposed to smoking. So there may be many opinions about president Niinistö’s speech at the opening of the parliament, but a bad argument against it is that somebody from the Finns Party has sometime said something a little bit similar.
My own understanding is that this refugee wave is only the beginning. During the next 20 years a considerable amount of refugees will try to enter Europe; not millions but tens of millions. Look at the population prognosis of Africa! When the current wave has caused Europe to go haywire, the play rules should be thought of now.
It is also possible that the EU’s and Russia’s relationship will become even worse and Russia takes action to reel out a free route for refugees seeking asylum in the EU through their country to the border of the EU. It has already become strangely easy to move around the before so strictly guarded border area of Russia. Already half a year ago I warned about that with the Finns Party’s demand that the Dublin agreement should be strictly followed, as it could turn out to be very unselfish when they arrive first in Finland through Russia…
There are very different understandings about how big responsibility Europe and Finland have to take in the refugee question. I guess everyone in some way admit that somewhere there is a limit. We try to separate the asylum policy’s ways away from that amount. We fix the amount of refugees accepted and wonder, what is the best way in this framework to choose refugees. Everyone can fix the amount to the level they themselves see fit. Few are surely those whose opinion is that we should accept more than a million refugees.
The current way of choosing refugees is far from optimum, if the purpose of the lack of a set amount is to help the refugees’ cause as much as possible. We give very good legal safeguards for those who have in some way managed to enter the EU, and we leave those who don’t have money or strength to be killed without mercy . Airlines receive very big fines if they bring an asylum seeker to Finland. This doesn’t make sense, if the purpose is to relieve the human distress caused by the refugee problem.
If we really see it right that a helping hand is given only to those who can afford to pay human traffickers, wouldn’t it in this case be better that the payment came to the Finnish government and the refugees came here safely by airplane – or that the money now paid to the trafficker would be a small capital to start a new life and get an apartment in Finland?
It would still somehow feel more rational to choose the refugees “on spot”, whatever that means after all.
We make fools also of ourselves, when we allow some lawyers to take a commission from asylum seekers who have received a negative decision, and who appeal and take them as their lawyers.
The Geneva refugee agreement is quite impractical in the current situation. It shouldn’t be cancelled, but it should be adapted according to the current situation. After all, there need to be some kind of agreement. Let us change the arrangement a little bit more. Let us not fix the amount of refugees to be helped, only those who incur a burden to the economy. Language skilled and educated refugees, who get a job instantly and start paying taxes, are not a burden but even a gain. Illiterate, middle-aged, who will never work will cause a lot more money spending.
Would it be right to choose refugees by who have the best possibilities to acclimatize to Finland and get a job here? Is it better to choose 200 000 well acclimatized instead of choosing 50 000 who are difficult to employ, if these options burden the economy equally much?
This is a choice based on values, to which there is no proper answer, and neither can I answer it. It is also, thinking of the departure country, quite a sad thing that those with the best education are leaving. Indeed, a country that doesn’t offer its population safety, cannot demand people to stay in the country. An educated refugee wave is emphasized also right now, because the poor can’t afford to pay the traffickers. Among the Iraqi refugees there are a lot of educated persons, who look down upon also some of their fellow countrymen in Finland and are afraid of these countryside bumpkins who spoil also the educated city people’s reputation.
If you had a tendency to believe in conspiracy theories, you could even think that we are letting the human traffickers choose which refugees who get to come, because this way we get more capable people.
I have suggested before that, among Iraq’s refugees, those with an academic education should be immediately chosen and offered a possibility to enter the country with immigrant criteria, if they cancel their asylum seeking. This way they have to themselves be responsible for their own livelihood.
Among the educated it would also be understood that normally the persecution is focused on intellectuals and more rarely on the mass. (The forced recruitment of the Isis is indeed a bit of a different thing.)
I don’t have a final opinion of this, because I know the conditions so poorly. I find it strange, that there is no ongoing discussion about this.
But I do instead have an opinion about the tricks some use in Finland, for example when they consider that cases of harassment of women should be an overall ground to refuse refugees, or even expel them in a speedy fashion. Overall, nobody should really be sent to death. But we need to do something, because the public opinion would be strongly turned against the asylum seekers.
It should also be decided how the refugees who have received a positive decision will be helped. In the Helsinki area they have best possibilities to get work, but the apartment would then be taken away from somebody else, because of the high demand. The areas which suffer from people moving away have again available apartments, but less often jobs. Would it be completely wrong to favor Helsinki as a placement especially for those refugees who have good possibilities to find work?
And my own subject of speculation is: should the refugees be given the same financial rights as what the Finnish population have now? It is completely worth a writing of its own. It is easy to say yes with bright-eyes, but in this case it may mean that refugees should be accepted in a fairly small amount. This is such a difficult issue that I don’t think I will get my thoughts together in a little while, in a way that I could write them.