“It’s no use yet to even talk about raising refugee quota,” says Elo

Simon Elo, the chairperson of the New Alternative Parliamentary Group, says the possibility of raising the refugee quota should be discussed only after other member states have fulfilled their obligations under the EU’s refugee resettlement scheme.

There is no reason to raise the refugee quota in Finland, insists Simon Elo, the chairperson of the New Alternative Parliamentary Group.

Minister of the Interior Paula Risikko (NCP) has repeatedly proposed that the annualquota be raised by 300 to 1,050, and she is expected to reiterate her demands in the government’s framework session set to take place this autumn.

Both Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) and Minister of Finance Petteri Orpo (NCP) have expressed their tentative support for the proposal. Elo and Sampo Terho (NA), the Minister of European Affairs, Culture and Sports, have contrastively rejected calls for raising the refugee quota.

“We see no reason for raising the refugee quota,” Elo states to Uusi Suomi.

“Finland has definitely done its part. If you think about the internal resettlements within the EU, we’ve done our part relative to our population and many other member states. We've got to turn our attention to the other member states that have committed to shouldering the burden, so to speak, but have yet to do so in practice.”

Elo believes it is time to deliver a clear message to such member states.

Timo Soini (NA), the Minister for Foreign Affairs, has similarly suggested that Finland should suspend the resettlements until all other member states have followed through on their commitments.

Finland has been one of the most active member states after an agreement on the resettlement scheme was found in 2015, having received more than two thirds of its target number of asylum seekers from Greece and Italy. The EU as a whole, however, has only resettled a fraction of the 160,000 asylum seekers to be resettled under the agreement by the end of September.

The Independent in May wrote that no more than 40,000 asylum seekers are to be resettled by the deadline.

Elo states that no discussions on raising the refugee quota should be held before the resettlements have been carried out fully.

“It’s no use even talking about it before that, although everything is linked to everything else when it comes to the government. So, it’s always possible to have discussions within the government, but of course the best way to torpedo such a proposal is to do so in public,” he said.

Elo and Risikko have both estimated that the quota refugee system of the United Nations is the most straightforward solution to resettle people in need of international protection. Elo reminds that he has previously proposed that the refugee status determination be conducted at the refugee camps operated by the UN in the Middle East and North Africa.

“That’d mean that people wouldn’t have to make the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean and pay money to human smugglers,” he explains.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva

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