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Home NATIONALArson attacks on refugee centres censured
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Sat, 02 Jan, 2016 01:00:30 AM
President addresses to the nation on New Year
FTimes Report, Jan 2
 
President Sauli Niinistö is delivering his New Year speech to the nation. Photo Lehtikuva.
President Sauli Niinistö on Friday strongly criticised recent arson attacks at some of the refugee centers in the country.
 
In his New Year speech to the nation, the president also focused on the economic rescession, refugee situation, national and international security and environment issues.
 
“For me, a lawyer of the old school, the fire-bombing of a building that could contain people should be characterised as arson, and my views on the matter have not changed,” said Niinistö, adding, “Arson is a serious offence, so too is the persecution of refugees, or inciting hatred against them. Too many such incidents have occurred”.
 
He, however, pointed out that all those who arrived here have not good intentions.  Some have a terrorist background, and some do evil of other kinds. 
 
The backgrounds and actions of a few are creating undue suspicion towards all immigrants.
 
“The authorities must communicate openly on such deeds and their consequences, regardless of whether the perpetrators are native Finns or immigrants,” warned the President, adding that this will help to calm rising emotions and nip rumours in the bud.
 
Niinistö expressed his anxiety over extreme events. He, however, firmly believes that Finns are not, on the whole, attracted by extreme ideas. 
 
 “To paraphrase the old maxim which remains relevant today – when in Finland do as the Finns do. Immigration can never mean that our core values – democracy, equality and human rights – are questioned,” he added. 
 
Terming the refugee crisis as surprise for Europe, he also said that the nature of asylum seeking has changed: those making their way to Europe include people who are not fleeing acute distress. Asylum-seeking and migration are now moving hand-in-hand towards Europe.
 
“We, in Finland, face an unprecedented situation. In just half a year, we have received more than 30,000 refugees, and more are arriving. While some are fleeing danger, others are seeking a better life – both of these are natural, human motives. Exploitation, sometimes even as a means of exercising power politics, can also lie behind this displacement of people,” said Niinistö.
 
“The world contains untold numbers of people who would come here, but there are limits to our capacity to take care of them. I think that Prime Minister Löfven of Sweden went to the heart of the matter when he said that "we have been naive."  Like many other countries, Sweden has tightened up its immigration policy,” he said, adding that he views the solutions enacted by the Finnish Government as an attempt to secure resources in order to help those most in need. 
 
This means that we can only help those who have come here fleeing persecution, he said.
 
Speaking on the economic situation, he pointed out the lean years in economic terms, with no great improvement yet in sight. 
 
“We will continue to live on borrowed money for some time, even though we have already taken action to correct this situation. Such times also test our sense of justice; that each of us should do his or her share in line with our capabilities, while laying the basis for the future rather than grabbing whatever we can,” said the President.
 
He highlighted two aspects of the recent economic debate. One concerning achieved gains and the other price competitiveness.
 
“The problem of price competitiveness has been recognised by all sides, even if agreement is yet to be reached on how to solve the issue. Deciding on who will give up some gains is never easy, and many suspect that others will reap the benefits. Improvements in price competitiveness can-not be all about easier division of the winnings. We need to enter into sufficiently general or even company-specific commitments to using the gains as discussed, in order to safeguard jobs,” he said, urging all parties to reach to labour market agreement.
 
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