Immigration dilatation

  • 2008-03-31
  • Monika Hanley in cooperation with BNS

Photo: Mikkel Grønkjær

With immigration andmigration being in the forefront of the European agenda these days, the Baltic nationshave started taking matters into their own hands, with varying results.

In Lithuania,a recent study shows hostility towards immigration, while in Estonia, the interior minister has called for strictermigration policy, allowing for immigration of qualifiedlabor.

"We should not inhibit their motivation, and researchers andspecialists whose knowledge and skills are of value to us will be very welcomein Estonia,"Pihl said.

In Pihl's view, based on the fact that non-Estonians make up around one-third of Estonia'spopulation, any continued immigration is dangerous.

"Massive influx of cheap labor posing a threat to both our economy andour security can definitely not be permitted. Our choice is qualified labor.But, regarding foreign labor, the state cannot dictate to the private sectorwhat they must do," the minister said.

According to Pihl, the new amendments to the aliens' law were to support theuse of qualified labor and prevent overflowing masses of cheap labor.

"The immigration quota helps control the number of foreigners who cometo live and work here. The permit processing procedure helps guard the securityof the society and ensures that a person can be trusted and that his knowledgeand skills benefit our labor market and economy," Pihl said.

The most fundamental change in Estonia'smigration policy is the introduction of a pay level criterion for workers fromthird countries, the minister said.

In Lithuania, a study conducted by theEthnicResearchCenter under the Institute for Social Research showed that 56 percentacknowledge that incoming workers from foreign countries to Lithuania are important for the country's economy, however almost half of Lithuanians 47 percent simultaneouslymaintain that there are enough of immigrants in the country, and no more inflowshould be permitted.

62 percent of the polled are also fearfulof potential social unrest to be caused by incoming work migrants.  

However, most of the country's inhabitants have no preconceiveddiscriminatory bias. Some 80 percent of respondents agreed that both Lithuanians and foreign citizens musthave the same rights in the Lithuanianlabor market.

The study also pointed out that the integration of immigrants is presentlynot included in the country's political agenda. No specific measures forintegration, other than "following successful practice of EUnations", have been set at this point.