Wednesday 10/20/21
POLICE INVESTIGATION

Siege intensifies around Foreign Minister Haavisto

Police say the preliminary investigation into the minister that began in February has been completed.

Maria-Ohisalo-Pekka-Haavisto-by-Lauri-Heikkinen-Vnk
Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (R) with the Minister of the Interior and leader of the Green League Maria Ohisalo. Photo: Lauri Heikkinen/Vnk.

The siege around Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto (Green League) intensifies.

Earlier this year, Haavisto still was a favorite in polls ahead of the upcoming presidential election. But this changed in mid-February, when the Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament requested the General Prosecutor to investigate the way he handled events surrounding the repatriation of Finnish women and children from Al-Hol camp (Syria). It is rare in Finland that the actions of a minister in the exercise of his office are investigated.

The origin of the request lies in an internal dispute which confronted minister Haavisto with senior official Pasi Tuominen, Director General of Consular services, who refused to act according to the minister's instructions. Haavisto was then accused of trying to get rid of Tuominen (who was in charge of Al-Hol affairs), by transferring him to another position in order to push his own repatriation plan.

Discredit

The issue put Haavisto under fire and some voices called for his resignation. In social media, his detractors launched a campaign and created the hashtag #haavistogate to attack him. Other analysts saw these attacks as an attempt to discredit him before the next presidential elections, which are still four years away.

Last week, the main Finnish media widely reported on a poll carried out by the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus, - which focuses on news concerning agriculture, forestry and country life - according to which Haavisto has lost a lot of support.

The results also showed that a new potential contender, Prime Minister and leader of the Social Democratic Party Sanna Marin - had entered the game. 

Report to Attorney General

The news, only five days later, that the police have finished the preliminary investigation into the minister's actions will probably not benefit Haavisto's presidential aspirations.

The National Bureau of Investigation (KRP, in its Finnish acronym), has now submitted an investigation report to the Attorney General, according to a press release issued Monday.

The release consisted in three lines of text in which Haavisto's name is not even mentioned. As is customary in Finland, no details on the conclusions or the content of the report were released.

The issue will be sent back to the Constitutional Law Commitee.

"The responsibility for information in this matter lies with the Constitutional Law Committee," police said.

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