Yana Toom: Estonian government’s policy on refugees is contradictory


According to European Parliament Member Yana Toom, broadly speaking, all of Estonian society is against taking in large numbers of refugees. In Toom’s opinion, a major contradiction is evident in the government’s official policy, which promises Brussels that they will take in refugees, but back home acts to the contrary.

Speaking on ETV’s political interview broadcast “Kahekõne”, Yana Toom said that fears of separatist feelings growing in the Russian populations of Narva and Ida-Virumaa were unfounded. “Narva certainly cannot be exploited in the interests of a third state; I would argue that not one resident of Estonia, not even those, that receive a pension from the Russian Federation, dreams of waking up in a country that belongs to Russia,” confirmed Toom.

“In addition, when considering the risk of social implosion, this risk doesn’t really apply in a region where the average age is well over the national Estonian average,” she continued.

Meanwhile, weaknesses involving Narva and Ida-Virumaa have been highlighted not only within Estonia, but abroad as well—according to a report published in Norway on Wednesday, specialists there find that in the migration crisis, migrants could reach the rest of Europe via Narva.

Yana Toom does not think that this flow of migrants is strictly Narva’s problem, however. Rather, in her opinion, refugees are able to penetrate the EU’s outer border anywhere in Europe fairly easily. “This has all gotten completely out of hand, and we cannot rule out that they will try to gain access to the EU via Russia,” Toom claimed.

The MEP went on to add that she did not agree with American General Philip M. Breedlove that Moscow is exploiting the migration crisis as a weapon because she does not believe in conspiracy theories. “The Kremlin has enough headaches already without using refugees to break up Europe,” she claimed.

Estonians and Russians share same attitude regarding the migration crisis

Discussing the migration crisis, Yana Toom found that this is one of very few societal issues upon which, broadly speaking, the country’s Estonian- and Russian-speaking communities agree, which is why the Centre Party is supportive of the referendum proposed initially by the Conservative People’s Party of Estonia (EKRE) regarding Estonia’s participation in the redistribution of refugees that have arrived in Europe.

“I believe that the people are not in favor of this wave of refugees reaching Estonia,” said Toom, “But I would argue that the current government is not in favor of it either, because the messages we are sending in Brussels are different from the actions that we are seeing here in Estonia.”

“Right now we are reporting that we currently have 12 refugees’ files sitting on our desk and we will begin to choose from among them, but our quota was 600 and change, which Mr. Rõivas did not deny. Therefore what we are saying in Brussels is one thing, but what we are doing in Estonia is another,” said the MEP.

According to Toom, the Center Party didn’t demand a referendum on the refugee issue because it wanted to copy EKRE, but rather because a referendum is what the people want.