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Ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) has urged lawmakers to also take into account Finnish dual citizenship holders living abroad.
Ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) has urged lawmakers to also take into account Finnish dual citizenship holders living abroad.

Jussi Niinistö (PS), the Minister of Defence, has raised eyebrows with his proposal to re-examine the position of dual citizenship holders residing in Finland.

Niinistö announced on 2 February that he has launched preparatory work to clarify the legislation on dual citizenship holders in the defence administration in order to ensure the legislation provides the means to adapt to the changing security environment and respond to new security threats.

The primary objective of the project is to improve the security of citizens, according to a press release from the Ministry of Defence. “The starting point would be that only people with only Finnish citizenship can be appointed to military positions in the Defence Forces,” the press release reads.

Ex-Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja (SDP) has expressed his doubts about the security effects of the proposal.

“This is what you could call security hysteria,” he stated to Uusi Suomi.

Tuomioja pointed out that it is questionable to presume that all dual citizenship holders would pose a security threat in the Finnish Defence Forces. “Finnish citizens will abide by Finnish laws in Finland. If we start introducing changes, the changes should affect everyone.”

He also drew attention to the position of dual citizenship holders living abroad: “You have to keep in mind that many of the Finns who have moved abroad would prefer to retain Finnish citizenship. You then have to keep in mind that we're basically operating in a world of reciprocity.”

Finnish dual citizens living abroad, he warned, may be treated differently, if Finland takes action to undermine the position of dual citizens.

Ozan Yanar (Greens) similarly criticised the legislative project launched by Niinistö.

“This is quite a difficult discussion, if you're implying that there's a large group of people who may be disloyal based on the fact that they have dual citizenship, based simply on the fact that they happened to be born in another country or one of their parents is from abroad. It'd be quite a strong message to send by the society, it'd be discriminatory,” he said to Uusi Suomi.

Yanar reminded that in addition to himself, three Members of the Finnish Parliament are dual citizenship holders: Antero Vartia (Greens), Juhana Vartiainen (NCP) and Anne Berner (Centre), the Minister of Transport and Communications.

Simon Elo (PS) contrastively expressed his tentative support for the proposal, estimating that both the legislative amendments and the preceding public debate are much needed.

“However, as a member of the Constitutional Law Committee, I'll examine the proposal in terms of its adherence to the constitution. That may be the biggest question mark at the moment,” analysed Elo.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi

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