In an appearance on ETV's "Esimene stuudio" on Thursday night, Minister of Population Riina Solman (Isamaa) said that Estonia has always been worried about its population, and in increasing immigration, it needs to be considered whom Estonia wants to accept and whom it doesn't.
Immigration to Estonia has been high for the past five years, and migration pressure continues to grow, and in this context, this choice must be taken into consideration, Solman said.
"It's actually smart to check and consider whom we want in our country and whom we don't want in our country," she said. "If we consider that Estonia's population is small, we actually have experience from the Soviet occupation era, when immigrants came in large numbers — we had 450,000 foreigners — and we haven't always been successful in integration matters, then we need to bear all of these things in mind today, when immigration is actually working."
The minister stressed that Estonia is not a closed country, but the government does not want illegal immigration here. The families of short-term workers arriving in Estonia are an added expense to the state, however.
"We certainly don't want to reject people from similar cultural spaces to ours from our society," she said. "What we do want, however, is that we don't have illegal immigration, and that we don't end up with a so-called 'immigration pump' in which the families of short-term workers enter the country via short-term employment. While cheap labor immediately benefits someone, we will pay for it in social problems later, and we will have to care for families, their children, we will have to provide them with an education, and that is an added burden on our taxpayers."
According to Solman, population growth does not ensure success.
"Our success is ensured by the makeup of our population, how educated we are, what work with value added we are capable of doing, and how defended and safe our country is," she said. "And this protectedness aspect is very important to ensure our survival in a changing world. Quality over quantity."
Editor: Aili Vahtla