Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini’s (BR) participation in an anti-abortion event while on an official visit to Ottawa, Canada, in May is problematic, views Tuomas Pöysti, the Finnish Chancellor of Justice.
Pöysti on Tuesday said Soini should show restraint and good judgement when it comes to his statements whenever travelling abroad to represent Finland.
“Restraint and good judgement are needed to prevent misunderstandings and misgivings about what are his own views and what are the views of the Finnish state. It has to be possible to clearly distinguish between statements made as a representative of the state […] and as a private citizen,” he stressed in a press release.
“Soini, however, violated no laws with his actions,” added Pöysti.
Soini, he argued, was exercising his right to religious exercise but also making a statement against abortion in participating in the anti-abortion vigil in Ottawa on 10 May.
“The state and the people serving as its representatives are typically required to have a neutral and impartial attitude towards different convictions. Soini was on an official visit representing his home country, the legislation of which allows abortion and which promotes the rights of girls and women – including their sexual and reproductive rights – through its foreign policy,” he highlighted.
Pöysti added that for any cabinet member and, especially, the minister for foreign affairs to make a statement against abortion rights while on an official visit abroad, it creates a risk that their statement is misconstrued as a reflection of the country’s official position on abortion.
He also reminded that while he is able to evaluate whether such actions are in violation of the law, he is not responsible for evaluation whether they are in line with the foreign or domestic policy of Finland.
“[It falls] under the scope of political ministerial responsibility,” said Pöysti.
Soini responded to the press release by pointing out in his blog that the chancellor of justice ruled that there is no evidence to suggest he had acted illegally.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi