Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen (Centre) attended a foreign and security policy seminar held for journalists by the Advisory Board for Defence Information (MTS) in Helsinki on 13 December 2022. STT on Tuesday reported that Kaikkonen will take a roughly two-month paternity leave early next year, becoming the first male minister take a lengthy parental leave in Finland. (Vesa Moilanen – Lehtikuva)


MINISTER OF DEFENCE Antti Kaikkonen (Centre) will take a roughly two-month paternity leave between 5 January and 28 February, reports STT.

“Although the ministerial duties are very important to me, at some point you have to be able to put family first. We aren’t quite ready to leave the baby in daycare, so at this juncture it’s my turn to take more responsibility for looking after the baby,” he explained to the news agency on Tuesday.

“That’s also what I want to do.”

Antti and Janika Kaikkonen have two young boys, one aged two years and the other six months. Janika Kaikkonen is set to start in her new role as director of public relations at Bayer on 1 January 2023.

Kaikkonen reminded that his ministerial responsibilities have translated to numerous long workdays and work trips. “Children are small for only a moment, and I want to be able to remember that also without photos.”

Minister of Finance Annika Saarikko (Centre) stated to STT that she is proposing that Mika Lintilä (Centre) juggle two ministerial portfolios – those of minister of economic affairs and minister of defence – during the absence of Kaikkonen. A final decision on the temporary replacement is to be made on Thursday.

Saarikko also commended the decision made by Kaikkonen. “Only Kaikkonen can be a present father to his children, but in politics things will go on and arrangements can be made.”

STT on Tuesday asked Kaikkonen if the timing of the leave gave him any pause, given the pending application to join Nato, the war raging in Ukraine and the parliamentary elections looming in April.

“Sure, but if you start waiting for a moment when it comes with no challenges, you’ll end up waiting a long time,” he retorted.

“When it comes to the Nato membership, the decisions will ultimately be made in Hungary and Turkey,” he added, referring to the only two countries that have yet to ratify the membership applications of Finland and Sweden.

Kaikkonen will have to formally resign from his ministerial post for the duration of the parental leave because domestic law does not recognise family leaves for cabinet members or Members of the Parliament. His is believed to be the first long parental leave taken by a male minister, according to STT.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT