"The Brussels Diary With Yana Toom": Migration Problem and Solution


Winter is coming, COVID-19 is growing stronger and the international situation is such that one does not know where to run. We have almost forgotten about the issue of migration with Nagorno-Karabakh, Belarus and the conflict between Turkey and Cyprus to the fore.

In fact, there’s no need to think of these issues in Estonia, as not one of the horror stories about hordes of refugees swarming our villages like grasshoppers, building mosques and dishonouring all women has played out in reality. Very strange. No hordes of immigrants – they do not want to come here; our villages, our women and our standard of living do not lure them. I remind you that last year Estonia received the lowest number of asylum applications in the EU – one hundred. Mind you, from six hundred and twenty-five thousand.

If you ask me, even if there were a hundred times more applications, it would not be a problem. Not everybody agrees with this. Thank God that violent hatred against immigrants is unacceptable, even for radicals. The other day, the Alternative for Germany party fired their spokesperson who said that the more immigrants the better because then the armchair patriots would win for sure and the immigrants could be later ‘shot or gassed’. German patriots are no idiots; they want to be seen as respectable. By the way, EKRE, after becoming part of the coalition, is also more polite.

True, immigration is a problem for the EU; however, it is more complicated than what is being portrayed by far-right proponents. Part of it is that it is beneficial for radicals to instil a fear of immigrants and get votes from spooked voters. This is the reason for slogans like ‘We will not let immigrants in!’ Meanwhile, Italy, Greece and Malta, due to their unlucky geographical locations, carry the consequences of immigration. There is no solidarity to talk about.

This week the European Commission decided to cut this Gordian knot and proposed a new pact on migration. Currently, applications for asylum are processed by the country in which the refugee has arrived. The new pact takes into account other criteria, such as whether the refugee has relatives in the EU or a diploma from a European university. The main point is – and this is clearly music to the radicals’ ears – it is not necessary to accept refugees according to a quota. Instead, it is possible to help send back to their homeland those whose application was refused. To negotiate with the country and buy a plane ticket. It is even possible to choose with which countries the state would like to work. And the country only has to accept the refugee if the repatriation has not happened within eight months.

The initial reaction of Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic does not give rise to optimism: they are against any quota, even in this form. We still have to wait and see what the fate of the proposal will be. The problem needs to be resolved because it is unlikely that this migration issue will just go away. The war in Nagorno-Karabakh and the conflict between Turkey and Cyprus has a common denominator – Erdoğan. Erdoğan holds a bargaining chip – four million refugees in camps for whom Europe is paying. If the EU should fall out with Turkey, all of these refugees may flood towards us.

This is why the pact on migration is necessary. Without solidarity, the countries on the EU border could be hit so hard that we will also suffer. Anyway, for now, Estonian villages and women may sleep peacefully.