Mihkelson: Estonian foreign minister overreacted by summoning Finnish ambassador (1)

MP Marko Mihkelson Photo: Postimees/Scanpix
1/16/2015 2:10 PM
Category: Politics

Marko Mihkelson, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Estonian Parliament, said that by summoning Finnish Ambassador to Estonia over Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja's remarks about Estonia's “nationalism”, Estonian Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus clearly overreacted.

“Estonia and Finland are close friends and neighbors, so it is possible to solve all the differences without diplomatic gestures and media hype. I can understand Estonian Foreign Minister's disappointment about Tuomioja's remarks, but to summon Finnish ambassador over her Finnish counterpart's personal opinion is clearly an overreaction,” Mihkelson (IRL) said.

Pentus-Rosimannus and her counterparts in Lithuania, Denmark and the United Kingdom are drawing up a joint letter asking the European Union's foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, to begin fighting against Russian propaganda.

But Tuomioja told Finnish Swedish-language newspaper Hufvudstadbladet that he did not wish to see EU money spent on a propaganda.

”How the Baltics have acted, it sounds like nationalism, failing to offer news in Russian,” he said, failing to notice the fact that Delfi, Postimees and ERR all offer online news in Russian, while ETV also runs Russian-language news programs.

Tuomioja's words prompted Pentus-Rosimannus to summon Finnish Ambassador Kirsti Narinen to Foreign Ministry on Thursday, to discuss Finnish foreign minister's comments and Estonian-Finnish relations.

Mihkelson added that the essential aim of Estonia's foreign policy is to strengthen the relationships with its European allies.

“It is praiseworthy that Estonia joined the Lithuanian Foreign Minister's initiative to create a more united position to fight against massive Russian propaganda. It is a great challenge for Europe, but as we can see from the reaction of Finland's foreign minister, it needs a serious diplomatic effort to gain support for the ideas that were proposed. But to achieve this, there are better ways in a diplomatic arsenal than a personal attack or summoning a local ambassador,” Mihkelson said.

“Estonian-Finnish bilateral relations have become substantially more open in last few years, including in regards to defense topics, which were until recently full of taboos,” Mihkelson said.

Many other prominent politicians seemed to have a similar viewpoint to Mihkelson.

The former foreign minister, Urmas Paet, wrote in the social media that Finland is one of the closest friends to Estonia and it is important to keep that relationship.

"Finland is one of our closest friends. It is important to keep this special relationship and improve upon. There are not many countries in the world that are so close to each other. An ill-fated pronouncement can not, and should not, undermine this relationship. It is always important to see the big picture," Paet said.

Center Party MP and deputy head of the parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, Enn Eesmaa, also said that Pentus-Rosimannus magnified the situation and should consider apologizing for the overreaction.

S. Tambur

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