Friday. 31.03.2023

Parliament asks Prosecutor General to investigate Foreign Minister

Prime Minister Sanna Marin said she sees no barrier for him to continue in office during the investigation.
The Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. Photo: Lauri Heikkinen/Finnish-Government.

The Constitutional Law Committee of the Finnish Parliament announced on Wednesday that it has requested the Prosecutor General to launch a preliminary investigation into Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto. The reason is their dissatisfaction with the way Haavisto handled events surrounding the repatriation of Finnish citizens from Al-Hol camp (Syria).

The origin of the petition lies in an internal dispute which confronted the minister and a senior official withing the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

A couple of months ago, while Finland was experiencing its last government crisis, Haavisto was accused of trying to push forward a plan to repatriate women and children trapped in Al-Hol without taking into account Pasi Tuominen, Director General of Consular Services and, in theory, the person who was in charge of the issues related to Al Hol.

The matter resulted in a tough political campaign against Haavisto. In social media, his detractors launched hard attacks against him and created the hashtag #haavistogate, which was used to attack him fiercely.

Some voices called for his resignation, but other analysts denounced these attacks as an attempt to discredit him for the upcoming presidential elections.

According to polls, Haavisto is currently the favorite politician of the Finns to be the successor of Sauli Niinistö as President of the Republic.

Why remove Tuominen?

The chair of the Constitutional Law Committee, Johanna Ojala-Niemielä, said that the pretrial investigation focused on why Haavisto wanted to get the Consular Chief Tuominen out of office. She says there is no evidence of pressure from officials, but the committee wants to know if Haavisto's decision to transfer him to a different position was only because he wanted to get rid of him.

The Prosecutor General and police will now investigate by means not available to the Constitutional Law Committee. During the process, Haavisto will continue in office.

"In my opinion, there is no barrier for the Foreign Minister to continue his work during the investigation," Prime Minister Sanna Marin said in Germany.

Parliament asks Prosecutor General to investigate Foreign Minister