Finnish Chancellor of Justice sees FM's appearance in anti-abortion event problematic

Source: Xinhua| 2018-09-19 01:04:51|Editor: Mu Xuequan
Video PlayerClose

HELSINKI, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish Chancellor of Justice Tuomas Poysti determined that the participation of Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini in an anti-abortion event in Canada last May was "problematic", the Chancellor's office said on Tuesday.

The Chancellor took the stand in response to citizens' complaints about Soini's actions. The Chancellor is an independent highest supervising official of legality in Finland.

Soini was on an official visit in Ottawa in May and participated in a "pro-life" vigil in the evening, outside the official program of the visit. His staff published the participation on social media, describing Soini as a foreign minister.

The chancellor said that Soini's behavior was not unlawful, but nevertheless contributed to giving "a false notion of the official policy of Finland towards abortion and the rights of women and girls".

"Finland accepts in its legislation abortion, and in its foreign and security policy Finland promotes the rights of women and girls, including their sexual and procreative health," the Chancellor said.

Soini has defended his behavior on the basis that freedom of religion prevails in Finland and abortion is in contravention of his catholic conviction.

Poysti noted, however, that in Finland "the state and persons representing it" are usually required to take "a neutral approach to various convictions". Poysti said that consideration should have been applied.

Talking to reporters in the parliament building on Tuesday after the publication of the Chancellor's stand, Soini did not give a direct answer to questions whether he would take a stand against abortions also in the future. "You know my stand," Soini said.

Later this week Soini is to face a vote of no-confidence motion in parliament. Most opposition parties have joined in a statement of no confidence.

Local observers believe, however, that the government parties will vote in favor of Soini, although both conservative and centrist ministers have in public disassociated from Soini's actions. A majority for no-confidence would most likely topple the cabinet and that is not in the current interest of the coalition parties.

Since becoming foreign minister in 2015, Soini has on several occasions in public statements diverted from the official Finnish policy line on women's rights and abortion. Earlier this year he welcomed the outcome of a vote in Argentina dismissing the right to abortion and deplored the outcome of a vote in Ireland where abortion was approved.

Soini's statements have routinely triggered notices of disengagement from his fellow ministers as not representing the official policy of Finland.