While the announcement by Interior Minister Petteri Orpo that Finland will accept 2,400 asylum seekers under a European Commission scheme is a positive step in the right direction, according to YLE in English, what message does it send?
For one, Orpo said that Finland doesn’t support commission plans to have a permanent mechanism to manage the flow of refugees and migrants entering Europe in ever-larger numbers.
While Orpo’s choice of words is a question of semantics, we still don’t have a clear idea what Finland’s role will be in the humanitarian crisis. Is it seeking a European solution or does it want to follow Hungary’s example by treating refugees inhumanely and leaving them out in the cold?
As long as the populist anti-immigration PS is in government we will never know for sure.
Read full story here.
As this government bungles from one crisis to the next, watch closely who makes the announcements.
Timo Soini, PS chairman and foreign minister, naturally spoke to the media about his party’s pet issue: immigrants. He said that the government is studying the possibility of lowering grants given to asylum seekers by 37% to about 200 euros from 318 euros now.
This was exactly what was done in Denmark, where the Islamophobic Danish People’s Party (DPP) is tightening subsidies and immigration policy. The PS and the DPP are close ideological allies.
But that’s not all. The PS is spearheading plans with the government’s blessings to demote asylum seekers that have got residence permits to be treated as second-class members of society.
Soini, who’s been accused of being a turncoat and faces a growing revolt in his party, announced that he wants to de-link funding for asylum-seeker integration programs from the housing benefits system. This means that some migrants will not get the same social welfare benefits as Finns irrespective if they live in Helsinki or Lieksa.
Some analysts believe that such steps are unconstitutional.
* The Finnish name for the Finns Party is the Perussuomalaiset (PS). The English names of the party adopted by the PS, like True Finns or Finns Party, promote in our opinion nativist nationalism and xenophobia. We therefore prefer to use the Finnish name of the party on our postings.