Tensions in the foreign ministry
The newsstand tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reports that Finland’s foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto, ousted his ministry’s director of consular services, Pasi Tuominen, after he tried and failed to pressure him into short circuiting procedure and repatriating the children of ISIS fighters from Syria without a political mandate.
According to the Ilta-Sanomat report, Haavisto also bumped heads with Tuominen who has been relieved of his duties, over visa regulations for Russian citizens.
Ilta-Sanomat says it has information that a plan was formulated at the Foreign Ministry to repatriate the children of Finnish ISIS members being held at the al-Hol refugee camp.
The plan was they would come to Finland without their mothers. According to the paper, Foreign Minister Haavisto attempted to convince Tuominen to carry out the plan in his own name and on his own authority.
Tuominen reportedly replied that as a responsible civil servant, he could not carry out an operation that would violate Finnish law and international agreements.
In addition, Ilta-Sanomat reports that Haavisto was displeased by changes in tighter visa regulations for Russian citizens introduced this past autumn. Up until this autumn, Finland had a more streamlined visa application process for Russians than in the rest of the Schengen zone.
The paper describes the atmosphere within the ministry as tense, with growing dissatisfaction with Haavisto who insiders see as bossy and quick to anger.
Foreign Minister Haavisto declined to answer questions on the details of the Ilta-Sanomat report.