The opposition National Coalition Party Kokoomus says it wants to temporarily limit the number of asylum seekers Finland can accept at its borders, on the grounds of national security.
The party has responded robustly to the current refugee crisis unfolding on the EU’s southern border between Greece and Turkey, even as the government appeared to be caught on the back foot with an initially muddled policy line.
“Now, we are not properly prepared for a situation where a neighbor would create a situation where Finland cannot handle a large number of simultaneous immigrants without jeopardizing national security” explains Kai Mykkanen, leader of the National Coalition Party Parliamentary Group, and a former interior minister.
“There is a need to include the possibility of restricting asylum applications for a limited period on the basis of a threat to national security” he says.
Kokoomus instead wants to see processing centres set up in third countries where asylum seekers can be picked for resettlement by EU states. These external camps have previously been championed by the EU, and by Kokoomus when it was in government, but rejected by the countries where the vast migrant centres would likely be located.
In the absence of processing centres outside the EU, Kokoomus wants to be able to process all applications in a ‘border zone’ without letting the migrants get too far into the 27-nation block.
Calls for better better national security
The National Coalition Party has been increasingly positioning itself as the party that’s going to be tough on national security issues.
Kokoomus also wants the government to do more to safeguard the country against asylum seekers who come to Finland and commit crimes, or who go to other countries to take part in terrorist activities.
“Finland must be at the same time an open, international and secure country, and a small margin of those who do bad things must not be allowed to put the majority of foreigners in the wrong light” Mykkänen tells News Now Finland in an interview.
The party has published a wish list of seven national security issues it wants the government to move forward with, including withdrawing citizenship of a dual national involved in terror activities abroad – which now can only happen for crimes committed in Finland.
Kokoomus is also proposing that anyone convicted of a terror offense abroad, but who has residence in Finland, would not be allowed back to the country. Criminalizing membership of a terror organisation and travel to conflict areas – except in special circumstances, for example, members of the media – is also on their policy agenda.
“Probably there are no optimal models, but if you look at the Nordics which have many things in common, Denmark and Norway have been improving their legislation against terrorism much faster than Finland and Sweden” says Mykkänen.
“And in that sense we think it would make sense to be able to cancel citizenship of a dual national person if you are found guilty of being engaged in armed terror groups. At the moment you can’t actually do anything. Or if a person is not a citizen, but has a residential permit, we could cancel the permit without hearing the person in a Finnish court” he adds.