Estonia's ISS: Fear of refugees mainly triggered by ignorance

Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.
Photo: Marianne Loorents

The main problem with the refugee issue in Estonia is fear proceeding from ignorance which has created a fertile ground for the increase of anxiety, tension and aggression in the society, the Internal Security Service (ISS) writes in its freshly-released yearbook.

The ISS says in its yearbook that the widespread migration crisis that affected the Mediterranean countries in 2015 has become a Europe-wide problem that not only raises political, economic and social issues, but also has a security dimension.

«Opposition to the EU and support for populists and extremists has grown. In 2015 anti-refugee groups were created on social media and about ten public meetings were organized. Amid increased public and media attention, the accommodation center for asylum-seekers in Vao was repeatedly attacked,» ISS writes.

According to the ISS, such sentiments, mainly triggered bu ignorance and irrational fear, show signs of xenophobia and the wish to oppose the state and society and defy the authorities' actions. Populism that takes advantage of social tensions in turn damages the security of society and international stability, dividing the European Union.  

«The national populists who use the refugee crisis to instigate fear are generally opposed to a European liberal and tolerant world-view, as well as to Europe, the USA and NATO. Russian propaganda thus paradoxically serves them as a suitable source of information and «ally». The attention received by national populists in turn offers leftist populists an opportunity to stand up for counteractions and increase their own influence,» it is written in the yearbook.

The publication states that the criticism of Russia that followed the Ukraine conflict is being replaced with a fear of refugees. «The greater the irrational fear and contrasting -- whether about the refugees of their opponents -- the more open the public is to hostile propaganda and likely to forget the difference between imaginary threats and real ones,» ISS writes.

The ISS stressed that the emotional amplification of the migration issue damages the interests of the Estonian society. «This is a welcome situation for the current leadership in Russia, who uses every opportunity to sow disorder in Estonia and to damage the integrity of the European Union and NATO, and to try to pave the way to extend its sphere of influence in Europe,» it writes.