Estonian Interior Minister Mart Helme has said Estonia will not accept asylum seekers, as the country has enough problems with immigrants coming from Ukraine.
At a meeting of interior ministers in Luxembourg on Tuesday, he said Estonia was currently facing very strong immigration pressure from former Soviet Union countries, ERR News reported.
"When we look at it, asylum seekers do not come to us from the Middle East or Africa, but from Ukraine. Second place was Georgia, then Moldova, and only then came Afghanistan and such countries," Helme said.
Helme said Estonia currently has enough problems with immigrants coming from Ukraine, something which countries in southern Europe have little experience of.
"We are still struggling with this immigration pressure, and we don't see much understanding for us. Ukrainians tend to integrate into the Russian-speaking community and for us, it's a cultural and demographic problem, and if someone says it's not a problem, [for us] it's a very serious problem. And if we start opening second and third fronts to take Latin America, Venezuela, the Middle East, and then sub-Saharan West Africa, we have no power," he said.
The interior minister said Estonia needs to make its position very clear to everyone.
"In order to prevent the arrival of people whom we cannot accept and those we do not want to accept, we must take this position. We have long stated our position. As long as we, that is EKRE [the Conservative People's Party of Estonia], are in government, Estonia will not accept immigrants," Helme said.
He did not expand upon what the problems with Ukrainians were or what problems have been raised. Last month he suggested an inquiry should be launched to stop Ukrainians moving to Estonia under the European Union's Schengen agreement. Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu quickly said this would not be possible.
Helme also believes Ukrainians who move to Estonia for work, which the vast majority do rather than seeking asylum, should face "systematic scrutiny."