Mass Migration Causing ‘Stark Transformation’ Of Western Values, European Leader Says

Russ Read | Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter

Finland’s President Sauli Niinisto claimed that the current state of migration to Europe poses a challenge to Western values on Wednesday during a speech to parliament Wednesday.

Niinisto’s comments came during a speech at Finlandia Hall officially opening the Finnish legislature’s spring term. He outlined his concerns to members of parliament following his praise over the weekend of a recent op-ed criticizing how the debate over immigration has become one of two extremes.

“Migration is a serious problem,” said Niinisto, “Europe, Finland, the western way of thinking and our values have all been challenged by it.”

“This is a stark transformation,” he continued, “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.”

Niinisto alluded to a recent claim from the Dutch E.U. commissioner Frans Timmermans who said 60% of asylum seekers coming to Europe are economic migrants, not actual refugees fleeing for their lives.

“The flow of immigration into Europe and Finland is largely a case of migration rather than a flight from immediate danger,” said Niinisto, “all estimates predict that the flow of people will increase this year. This is challenging the ability of western democracies to help and also challenging the very structures underlying the idea of Europe.”

The Finnish president then offered up a measured solution, noting that the Geneva Conventions, which outline the manner in which many western countries legislate their refugee process, are archaic and should be updated to deal with the new circumstances facing both Finland and Europe.

“First of all, we must safeguard our foundation of European values – there should be no confusion about this,” explained Niinisto, “secondly, we must help those who are in distress or being persecuted. At the moment, however, we cannot help those who are merely seeking a better life or feel that their circumstances and future are difficult in their home countries.”

Niinisto was candid regarding the difficult situation that faced Finland and Europe as a whole.

“There are therefore no good options,” he said, “we have to ask ourselves whether we aim to protect Europe’s values and people, and those who are truly in acute danger, or inflexibly stick to the letter of our international obligations with no regard for the consequences.”

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