Study: What do Estonians think of migrants? ({{commentsTotal}})

Fear of refugees is present in Estonia but it is not predominant, a study found.

In order to learn about the prevailing attitudes toward refugees in Estonia, the editors of Memokraat, in cooperation with the University of Tartu researchers Kristjan Vassil and Mihkel Solvak, commissioned a poll from Turu-uuringute AS.

The poll was conducted from October 7-20 when a total of 993 respondents answered questions in face-to-face interviews. Among other things, they were asked how many refugees the EU has assigned to Estonia for relocation and resettlement, how large the general immigration to Estonia is, and how many immigrants should be allowed in.

On average, respondents said that Estonia would be able to handle 315 refugees. One quarter of the respondents said that Estonia should accept no refugees at all. According to the research team, this rebuts the claims that the Estonian populace is firmly against refugees and indicates that even if they are not necessarily welcomed with open arms, there is room for a debate about the circumstances of their arrival.

The study also revealed how feelings toward different categories of immigration – asylum, studies, family, employment – differ. For instance, 92.5 percent of the respondents said Estonia should be open to those foreigners who wish to study here, while only 39 percent said the same about asylum seekers.

“The analysis shows that broad, black-and-white political oppositions do not accurately reflect the real situation in people's attitudes toward refugees,” the authors concluded. “When calmly questioned, most people do differentiate between different types of migration and cultivate rather different opinions of them.”

Editor: M. Oll

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