Speaking to MPs at the opening of parliament’s spring term, President Sauli Niinistö didn’t surprise a lot of people by stating that the amount of asylum seekers coming to Europe are putting under threat our values, reports YLE News. He even went as far as to suggest that if the Geneva Conventions were written today they’d be stricter.
If the government, politicians and President Niinistö have been blamed in the past for giving mixed statements about asylum seekers and immigrants, the latest speech by Finland’s head of state left nobody guessing.
“Migration is a serious problem,” he said. “Europe, Finland, the western way of thinking and our values have all been challenged by it. This is a stark transformation; just a few years ago we were exporting our values and regarded them as unquestionable, now we are having to consider whether even we ourselves can preserve them.”
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President Niinistö not only revealed his anti-immigration views clearer than ever before but the source of Finland’s xenophobia: Migration should be seen as a threat and not as an asset.
What is ironic about his speech is that it was made next to Maria Lohela, the Islamophobic Perussuomalaiset (PS)* speaker of parliament who was reelected today.
President Niinistö claims that migration threatens Europe but in fact, it’s his type of leadership by politicians that pose the greatest threat to our values and region. How disingenuous can you get when the head of state of a country that is supposed to stand up for human rights begins scapegoating migrants and people fleeing wars?
Disgraceful speeches like the one today in parliament by Niinistö show that some heads of state in Europe consider human rights an obstacle. This is nothing new in Finland. During the cold war era, human rights were seen as a threat to our special relationship with the former Soviet Union.
Fortunately, the 30th article of the UN Declaration of Human Rights states:
“Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.”
* 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.