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Civic Nation Unity in Deversity

Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric

Anti-Xenophobic Rhetoric Chairman of the Union of Left Forces of Finland Paavo Archinmäki.

The issue of racism was comprehensively covered during the televised Finnish presidential debates in January. Eva Biaudet, a representative for the Swedish People’s Party, and Paavo Arhinmaki, a representative for the Left Alliance, demanded that the Finns Party distance themselves from racism more clearly. Paavo Lipponen, a social democrat, in turn, stated that it was about time to stop the discrimination of the minorities and democracy. Paavo Arhinmaki expressed his regret over the hardening attitude of society towards the immigrants in the past two or three years. Sauli Niinisto, the National Coalition party candidate, emphasised the importance of reputable and dignified behaviour of other members of the parliament.

Paavo Arhinmaki, the Minister for Culture and Sport and a member of the Left Alliance, attended Pride Week, an event promoting equality and protection of rights of LGBT minorities. During his opening speech at the Pride week Arhinmaki raised the issue of how LGBT minorities are treated vindictively in sports. He continued by stating that while the attitude towards LGBT is of a decent standard, when relating to sports there is much to be desired, and thus Arhinmaki appealed to the sports organisations to end discrimination.

Eva Biaudet, the Finnish Ombudsman for Minorities, made an appearance at the Yle Radio Suomi Ykkösaamu radio broadcast in December after the journalist Umayya Abu-Hanna published her article. Biaudet claimed that racist statements are a marker of insecurity. She added that racism violated the basic principles of Finnish society and racist statements tend to have an effect not only on individuals but also on whole groups of people. Biaudet emphasised that racism and degrading attitude would never be admissible. She considers hate speech to be a serious issue in all societies.

In early September 2013 the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö met with a delegation of the Finnish Association of Russian-speaking Societies (FARO). Sauli Niinistö at the meeting pronounced a few phrases in Russian and supported the activities of the Association. The meeting touched on the programs of integration of Russian-speaking immigrants, as well as the challenges that they face in their Finnish life.

In response to the words of J. Halla-Aho about Syrian refugees, Minister of Internal Affairs of Finland Päivi Räsänen on September 23rd reminded that every year about 750 refugees from other countries can come to the country. But given the difficult situation in Syria, Suomi considered it possible to increase the quota exactly for Syrians. In return, the head of the parliamentary faction of the National Coalition Party Petteri Orpo said that deputies from the “True Finns” have shown their indifference to human suffering.

Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Päivi Nerg said in October in an interview with “Echo of the Planet” that “the proportion of migrants in our population is very small compared to other countries, so for us the prospect that they will overcome Finns in quantity is very far away. On the contrary, it is discussed that for our country and the economy migration could be beneficial. Attracting migrants is one of those ways in which we try to solve the problem of an aging population. However, there is a certain issue preventing this. It is the difficult Finnish northern climate. “Director of the Department for Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Terhi Hakala said that in Finland the perception of migrants is absolutely adequate. “Of course, there will always be people who do not like it. But in general, there is no problems with negative perception of migrants”- she said. Head of Division in the political department of the Foreign Ministry, Mikko Kinnunen, noted that by itself the phenomenon of migration and related challenges are a “sign of an open society and is in any case better than an authoritarian regime”.

Speaking at a seminar organized on November 20th by Amnesty International, the Secretary of State, Ulla-Maya Rayakangas stressed that the possibility of obtaining legal recognition of gender reassignment should be independent of psychiatric diagnosis or any other medical criteria, including sterilization. Against sterilization were also the representatives of the central hospitals of Helsinki and Tampere, responsible for the examination of transgender patients.

On August 26, Prime Minister Suomi Alexander Stubb said in an interview that it is unacceptable to assign responsibility for the actions of Russian Finns to Russian authorities. He urged to look at Russia and Russians from a positive side. “We can’t blame the Russian culture, Russian Finns or the Russian language for actions of the Russian government. We need to build a society where no ethnic minority, including Russians, is subjected to discrimination.

On November 9, Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (Coalition Party) spoke on Yle Radio Suomi and urged everyone not to relate the actions of the Russian state to the Russian-speaking minority in Finland.

Finnish Prime Minister’s statement about the opposition inciting “Russophobia” became a true sensation in mid-September. Alexander Stubb was talking about the decision to construct a new nuclear power plant in cooperation with the Russian Rosatom Corporation.

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