Jussi Halla-aho, a former chairperson of the Finns Party, was photographed in the session hall of the Parliament House in Helsinki on 3 February 2022. (Antti Aimo-Koivisto – Lehtikuva)

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RIIKKA PURRA, the chairperson of the Finns Party, is proposing that her predecessor, Jussi Halla-aho, take over from Mika Niikko as chairperson of the Finnish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“This will of course be decided at the parliamentary group’s meeting, but this is what we’ve been discussing,” she clarified to Helsingin Sanomat on Wednesday.

Purra added that she does not expect any member of the group to object to the nomination at the meeting on Thursday.

Halla-aho handed over the reins of the populist right-wing opposition party in August 2021, having held them since 2017. He served as a Member of the European Parliament between 2014 and 2019. Purra described Halla-aho as someone with a keen focus on international politics but who has yet to have the opportunity to demonstrate his prowess in the domain.

“This position is definitely the most suitable for him,” she said, drawing attention to his experience at the helm of the party, the EU and the European Parliament.

“He likes to discuss and write about these things. And he unfortunately hasn’t been able to show how proficient he is with these sorts of analyses in the Finns Party. This’d be a very fine position and it’s naturally great that we can offer such a key committee position to a former chairperson,” she added. “And it’s just as nice that he’s ready to accept it.”

Halla-aho on Tuesday shed light on his views about the tensions in Europe, Russia and Ukraine on Facebook. Diplomacy, he wrote, is meaningful only if the demands and objectives of both parties to a dispute are somehow legitimate and if a mutually satisfactory compromise between them can be achieved.

“Russia’s objectives in regards to its neighbours aren’t legitimate, however, and it’s therefore impossible to make rightful and sustainable compromises on them,” he wrote.

“Russia is under no military threat, and Russia thus can’t invoke its otherwise rightful security interests in demanding that its neighbours subject to Russian hegemony or restrict the leeway in their foreign and security policy.”

Niikko on Tuesday announced he has decided to step down as chairperson of the committee following a wave of criticism prompted by his tweet about Nato and Ukraine. A western head of state, he tweeted, should step before the media and state that Ukraine will not join Nato.

“Otherwise the negotiations won’t be a success from Russia’s viewpoint, and the consequences will be horrendous. Doesn’t the West have a single wise head of state who knows Russia?” wrote Niikko.

He later clarified that is believes every independent state is free to apply for membership in Nato.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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