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Finnish immigration policy is lost in time

July 3, 2008

Every country has a sensitive nerve. Find and touch it and you will hear pain – or outrage. In the US it is Washington’s unilateral approach to foreign policy, accepting that it was a crime against humanity to drop two atom bombs on Japan, in Spain it is the pillaging of Latin America from the 16th century, in France it is accepting that French culture has been relegated to a second-class global status, in Argentina it is being an animal rights advocate and in Germany it is exposing in great detail the crimes committed against the Jews and other nationalities during the Nazi regime.

What is Finland’s vulnerable nerve? In my opinion it is having a totally new look at Russia and immigration in general. Specifically, seeing these two latter matters as an opportunity – not as a gas pump to feed one’s nationalism and an opportunity to exploit to the maximum.

Those who know little about Finland will usually claim that the country has been hardened by its uneasy relationship with its giant eastern neighbor Russia. Three terrible wars (Civil, Winter and Continuation) shaped how some Finns saw the outside world. Basically it was seen as a threat compared with being an opportunity.

If anything, Finnish immigration policy, especially after the Second World War, reflects this attitude. Imagine, if the “white” Russians have caused so much harm to Finland, what kind of a unknown threat would other cultures pose on the country? Finland’s attitude towards outsiders had also been expressed in its antiquated foreign investment laws that prohibited foreigners from owning stakes in key industries such a forestry, own land etc. The law, which came into force in 1939, was only thrown into the trashcan of history after Finland became a EU member in 1995.

Even though I have a lot of hope that matters will eventually change for the better in Finland, I’m not holding my breath. Many of the policy makers who are now drafting Finland’s immigration and multicultural policy grew up during the cold war era, when Finland walked a very thin geopolitical line. Another factor that has kept Finland’s immigration policy lost in time is that it is guided mostly by nationalist emotions. How many foreigners or sons of foreigners wield enough power in Finland to influence such decisions? Very few – if none. The situation is a bit like being a white racially ignorant social worker from Alabama offering advice to Blacks in Harlem. The best people to help such Blacks are the Blacks from Harlem.

To conclude, Finland’s stance and policy on immigration is like the internationalization that Finnish companies underwent in the 1980s. They became “international” companies but had few if any non-Finns working for them.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    July 3, 2008 8:42 pm

    “The situation is a bit like being a white racially ignorant social worker from Alabama offering advice to Blacks in Harlem. The best people to help such Blacks are the Blacks from Harlem.”

    Yes, so why are you white bammy boy then giving us harlem globetrotters advice?😉

    I think the ship has changed course already. If you compare the situation now to Eila Kännö days its night and day. They’re now offering even “service” as you’ve noticed. The direction is there, but I guess the problem is that there is no place they can look for a role model – nobody has a perfect solution. Theres a lot of working solutions, but then trying to implement one that fits for Finland and the economical realities here… again another big issue. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

  2. Enrique permalink
    July 3, 2008 10:52 pm

    DeTant, I agree fully with you. It’s wrong to think that the solution for Finland can be an exact carbon copy. Things have changed a lot since Eila Kännö. You seem like a person with a head on your shoulder — what would be some Finnish solutions to the issue?

  3. DeTant Blomhat permalink
    July 4, 2008 1:54 pm

    I think that the solution has been there all the time. If you come to Rome, do as the Romans do, or leave Rome. If you decide to become a Roman, then you as a part will build Rome.

    There are forces that try to convince the public that one way is better, but once you look at who is talking – they have their own agenda they are promoting. The industrial and business lobby has never had huge problems to employ the specialists that they want – the question is now they want to employ cheap exploitable labour. So should we listen to them? All kinds of groups are formed for the sole purpose of pumping money from the government to employ a few do-gooders, so they want a purpose for existing. Should we listen to them? At the same time the whole of EU is facing pressures for immigration outside the EU – but they haven’t been able to form an uniform immigration policy. But for example now the Schengen agreement already ties the hands of Finnish officials to an extent. And we must listen to them.

    So no, there can’t be only a “Finnish solution” I think an EU-wide solution should be formed. But I don’t think they can get one in ten or maybe twenty years, so meanwhile we need to plod on and try to observe and learn from what our neighbours are doing to avoid the pitfalls.

  4. Jack permalink
    January 23, 2010 11:43 am

    I really hope Finland doesn’t head down the path of ‘multiculturalism’, coming from a multicultural country (Australia) I can tell you it takes more than it adds to society.

    Finland is already an extremely successful country, why would you gamble on that?

    • Enrique permalink
      January 23, 2010 1:33 pm

      Hi Jack, thank you for your comment and welcome to Migrant Tales.

      Austrailia is one of three countries in the world that are officially multicultural when it comes to social policy. Could you tell us what and from whom does multiculturalism take away from?
      Why does Australia have immigrants? Why do you think the country has become multicultural in regards to social policy? Do you think that the same mistakes committed against the Aborigines could happen in a multicultural social policy setting?

  5. July 23, 2010 7:32 pm

    1 third party voice in Fox news inside the Tv show. He includes a actually hard immigration law plan. He managed to graduate for the Harvard Higher education. Currently he has his 1 Broadcast Show. He don’t just like the actual Nation us president.

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