Minister calls for more pre-selection of refugees
10 Feb 2018, 21:47 ( 6 Months ago)
Kai Mykkänen, the new Finnish interior minister. Photo Finnish government by Laura Kotila.
Kai Mykkänen, the new Finnish interior minister, on Saturday called for more equality for refugees trying to get to Europe.
"Now those with money and with ability to travel come in and ask for safety," Mykkänen said to news agency Uutissuomalainen, while complaining "the result of European efforts to share the burden have been modest".
He said he would be ready to increase the quota refugee numbers for Finland ten-fold, if the quota system could become the primary channel of arrival instead of first being smuggled in and then showing up at refugee centers.
Mykkänen said making the quota system the primary way would require an EU-wide decision.
In Finland, the parliament confirms the size of the quota annually. Finland selects the people among those who already have a refugee status, confirmed usually by UNCHR, in areas close to the departure country. In recent years the quota for Finland has ranged from 750 to 1,050 annually.
Mykkänen underlined though that he adheres to the governmental policies adopted in 2015, when the populist Perussuomalaiset (Finns Party) was part of the ruling coalition. After the Perussuomalaiset was split in 2017 and the breakaway Sininen Tulevaisuus (Blue Reform) party has also opposed an increase, and therefore the quota has been kept at its previous level.
Mykkänen said that the number of asylum seekers to Europe in recent years is not the largest issue. The biggest problem is how to differentiate those who are the most in need of protection from the others.
The second problem is the handling of those who have been given a negative decision, he added.
Mykkänen expressed optimism for a joint look into the processes and criteria of the refugee intake now that the outer borders have been "quieter than in the past two years".
Mykkänen said he was concerned about the future of the some ten thousand recipients of negative decisions still in Finnish refugee reception centers. He warned against a situation where there would be both legal and illegal residents in Finland.
Meanwhile, he reminded that asylum seekers have been able to apply for a work-based residence permit in Finland.
The Kansallinen Kokoomus (National Coalition Party) chose Mykkanen this week as the successor of Paula Risikko to take up the interior ministerial portfolio. Risikko became speaker of parliament.
Mykkänen commences his work on Monday.