TALLINN – In a statement adopted at its convention on Saturday, the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) says that massive inflow of people of non-Estonian origin, largely sparked by the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, poses an existential threat to Estonia's statehood.
"The war of Putin's Russia against Ukraine has caused an existential threat to Estonian statehood. Since the end of February, the influx of people from Russia has increased. Close to 30,000 war refugees have arrived from Ukraine. The number of people who come to Estonia to escape the horrors of war may reach up to 100,000, according to estimates," the largest opposition party says.
It says Estonia has a moral obligation to help Ukrainian war refugees, and our people have been exceptionally helpful and unanimous in supporting the victims of war. However, just as when going to the rescue of a drowning person one must take care to ensure that the rescuer does not get pulled under the water themselves, so too must the government ensure that we do not get into trouble ourselves as we are helping those in distress, EKRE says.
The statement points out that due to the large immigration during the Soviet occupation, the share of people of foreign origin in Estonia is still among the highest in Europe. Almost 70,000 people with undetermined citizenship and more than 80,000 Russian citizens live in Estonia. In recent years, 4,000-5,000 more people have come to Estonia each year, mainly from East Slavic countries, Asia and Africa, than have left.
"The parties in power in Estonia today are parties that are dismantling the nation state and have no will to regulate immigration in line with the interests of the Estonian state. On the contrary, the government is planning to push through a bill in the Riigikogu shortly that will boost immigration even further by removing the scant existing restrictions on the import of cheap labor," the statement reads.
It says that if the government's current policy continues, Estonians face the risk of becoming a minority in their own country. Estonia faced a similar threat at the end of the period of Soviet occupation, when the share of ethnic Estonians had fallen to 64 percent. At the end of last year, the share of Estonians in the Estonian population was slightly more than 66 percent, and it has been constantly declining in recent years.
The convention of EKRE finds that such population replacement should not be allowed, and calls on the public to put pressure on the government to stand up for a strict immigration policy in order to preserve the national home. The plan to attract additional cheap foreign labor to Estonia must be abandoned immediately, because foreign workers push down the wage levels of our people and increase the emigration of ethnic Estonians.
"As long as we are busy helping war refugees, all immigration from third countries must be halted. In the face of explosive immigration, we must also call for a legislative amendment to leave the right to vote in local elections exclusively to Estonian citizens as a measure to protect the nation state," the statement reads.
"We sympathize with every person who has left Ukraine because of Russia's aggression, but Estonia's small demographic and geographical size inevitably limits the number of war refugees we can help. The government should set a cap as soon as possible," it adds.
According to EKRE, Estonia must not set its sights on the Estonianization of Ukrainian war refugees, let alone their Russification, especially as the Russian attack on Ukraine has given a powerful impetus to the strengthening of Ukrainians' national feelings.
"The children of Ukrainian war refugees do not need education in Estonian or Russian, but in Ukrainian and on the basis of Ukrainian national curricula. We must do all we can to ensure that war refugees can return home when the war is over, because Ukraine needs its people to rebuild the war-torn country," the statement says.