Migration is one of the main issues on my political agenda as Minister of the Interior. Firstly, I see a need to increase labour migration to Finland by making this a compelling home country for international experts and by making sure that the residence permit system is functioning as efficiently as possible.
Secondly, I stress the importance of human rights. We need to ensure the rights of people seeking international protection and, at the same time, to continually support effective asylum procedures.
Thirdly, I find it important that we enable the effective return of people who have not been granted asylum or a residence permit in Finland based on work or studies.
In order for us to continue to have an open-minded, internationally oriented and safe Finland, we need to make sure that our asylum and residence permit systems are working as planned and that no shadow society of paperless migrants becomes established. A key factor in ensuring this is to assist in and support voluntary return.
Assisted voluntary return (AVR) programmes have been funded by the EU Return Fund and the Finnish Immigration Service and implemented by IOM Helsinki since 2010. The first project was carried out between 2010 and 2012 and it successfully supported the return of 858 people. In 2017, 1,422 foreign nationals were returned through the programme.
I would like to thank IOM for its important work and I applaud its efforts on behalf of displaced persons asylum seekers and refugees.
In the long term, I wish to see a more ambitious common European solution to the refugee question. We need a more controlled way of providing international protection which does not lead to human trafficking and unnecessary loss of life.
To guarantee such a comprehensive approach to managing migration on our continent, we need European-wide cooperation and practices. I hope and believe that IOM will take an even-more determined and decisive role in shaping this European system over the next 25 years.
Minister of the Interior, Finland