Finland. According to
countryaah, President Sauli Niinistö's speech at the opening
of the parliament in February was a clear message about
stricter refugee policies in Finland and Europe. The flow of
migrants is largely a migration, not an escape from
immediate distress, the president said. Europe cannot cope
with the uncontrolled migration for a long time, Niinistö
explained. The true Finns praised the speech, while the
Social Democrats called it "ice cold".
During the year, the Government decided on a number of
austerity policies in asylum policy. Among other things, it
became more difficult and expensive to obtain a residence
permit, and family reunification became more difficult. The
number of asylum seekers was thus estimated to decrease to
around 10,000 during the year.
After three years of recession, Finland's economy had
turned slightly upward, and GDP was expected to increase by
1% during the year. But exports continued to decline,
including in the food industry due to EU sanctions on the
Russian Federation. In March, thousands of farmers with
tractors in Helsinki protested against lower prices of milk,
among other things.
In the IT sector, Nokia and Microsoft notified about
2,350 employees in Finland in April. Unemployment reached
close to 12% in May, but fell to 7.7% in September.
In June, a number of trade unions agreed to increase the
number of working hours by a total of three days per year
without salary compensation. The government's intention with
the proposal was to strengthen the competitiveness of the
economy vis-ā-vis Sweden and Germany. About 85% of the labor
market was covered.
Interior Minister Petteri Orpo became the most popular
minister in a Gallup poll in May. The main reason was
assumed to be the tightening of asylum policy. In June, Orpo
was elected new chairman of the Conservative Party, since he
challenged Alexander Stubb at the party congress. Orpo thus
also took over the post of Finance Minister from Stubb.
When the Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin
visited his Finnish colleague Niinistö in July, he declared
that any Finnish NATO membership would lead to Russian
troops moving to the Finnish border. Niinistö received some
criticism for meeting Putin despite Russian annexation of
Crimea, but he said he wanted to help break the disbelief
between NATO and the Russian Federation.
Niinistö explained during the year that a possible
Finnish decision to apply for NATO membership should be
preceded by a referendum. He thus opposed his former party
friends in the Assembly Party, Stubb and Orpo, who believe
that Finland should apply for NATO membership next term
without a referendum. In September, the Finnish Air Force
participated for the first time in a national exercise in
Sweden, and in October the Swedish Air Force participated in
a similar exercise in Finland.
In September, a 28-year-old man was beaten at a meeting
held by the neo-Nazi Finnish resistance movement outside the
Helsinki railway station. The victim died after a week. The
perpetrator, a well-known neo-Nazi, was arrested on
suspicion of murder. The Finnish Resistance Movement is a
branch of the Nordic Resistance Movement, which is led from
Sweden. The death row was aroused by strong reactions and
was followed by major manifestations against right-wing
extremism in several cities. About 15,000 people
participated in Helsinki. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
promised that the government would take new measures against
In December, a man shot dead three women in the city of
Imatra. The victims were a local politician and two
journalists, and according to the police, the perpetrator
was mentally ill.