Weekly: Finnish government at odds over Russia sanctions (1)

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja caused a little diplomatic scandal saying Estonia's handling of Russian propaganda was nationalistic. Estonian Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus was offended and summoned the Finnish ambassador but it's been business as usual since Tuomioja retracted his comments. (AFP/Scanpix)
4/16/2015 3:02 PM
Category: International

The Finnish weekly newspaper Suomen Kuvalehti has in its possession leaked emails, which disclose that foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja came under criticism from his coalition partners for acting against Finland's interests in relation to European Union's economic sanctions against Russia.

Erkki Tuomioja (the Social Democratic Party of Finland) was criticized by coalition partners from the National Coalition Party for his actions during the meetings when the EU foreign ministers discussed imposing economic sanctions against Russia on March 17, last year, the weekly revealed. The sanctions were implemented in the light of Russian aggression in Ukraine.

It emerged from the letters, exchanged between Finnish EU official Juho Romakkaniemi, the then-Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen and Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb that Tuomioja was against harsher sanctions and wanted to thin them down.

“Estonians don't know whether to laugh or cry about us,” Romakkaniemi wrote, adding that in his opinion, Tuomioja did not follow guidelines and acted against the interests of Finland.

The Economist magazine has also written that Tuomioja wanted to remove Dmitri Kisseljov, head of the Russian government-owned international news agency Rossiya Segodnya, and one of President Vladimir Putin's propaganda chiefs, from the list of officials whose traveling to the EU would have been limited under the sanctions.

Another official, Olli-Pekka Heinonen, expressed concern in the exchanged emails that due to Tuomioja's actions, Finland will be seen as breaking the EU unity with regards to Russia. Heinonen also proposed that in the future, only the Finnish prime minister would comment on the Russian sanctions.

S. Tambur

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