The Finnish EU Presidency represented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs under the guidance of its FM, Erkki Tuomioja, is trying to provide a picture of competency and unanimity during the recent conference of EU ministers that gathered in the city of Lappeenranta, situated on Finland’s eastern border with Russia.
Finland’s premier daily newspaper , The Helsinginsanomat, published an editorial under the title of “Looking for consensus”, which doesn’t say anything else than that;
“…….the foreign EU ministers “made it clear to the EU itself and to the world, that there will be no negotiations with Hamas until it has changed sufficiently…….”
This sentence however, conceals an obvious difference in opinion between Tuomioja and the majority of the other EU ministers, where Tuomioja (fortunately) lost! The Financial Times published the news that Tuomioja had suggested to the EU ministers negotiations with Hamas.
“Errki Tuomioja, Finnish foreign minister, told FT Deutschland, the Financial Times’ sister paper, that the EU would have to make an important shift in policy and be prepared to enter discussions with all “relevant” parties if it were to revive the stricken Middle East peace process. “Hamas is not the same party it was before the elections,” he said, referring to what he said were the group’s encouraging but insufficient steps to moderate its stance after it won control of the Palestinian Authority this year. “We have to be able to talk to anyone who is relevant,” he added. “There are many ways of having contact . . . nobody will start with press conferences and photo opportunities.”
Tuomioja claims that it’s not true, that he never has suggested FORMAL negotiations with Hamas (but obviously informal ones), but I nevertheless notice with some satisfaction that:
(a) Tuomioja did not get his suggestion through to the other EU-ministers, and that
(b) he has again been publicly and internationally exposed for what he really is – an anti-Israeli pro-terrorist leftist activist
Erkki Tuomioja has been well known for his anti-Israel animosity, earning him unwanted attention last year, for his remarks in an interview in the highly regarded Suomen Kuvalehti magazine, for which Middle East expert, Efraim Karsh responded in a lengthy expose of the Finnish Foreign Minister in the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs;
European Misreading of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Finnish Foreign Minister Tuomioja – A Case Study
Karsh pointed out then that:
“Next year Finland will assume the EU’s rotating presidency, making Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja a player in the organization’s Middle Eastern policy. Tuomioja’s views are representative of a deeper undercurrent in contemporary European criticism of Israel, one that combines factual ignorance and misconceptions about the Arab-Israeli conflict with latent animosity borne out of the Continent’s millenarian legacy of anti-Semitism.”
It appears that Karsh’s suspicions of the Finnish FM were not misplaced. The Finnish presidency under E.Tuomioja’s guidance has taken a leading role in trying to circumvent stated EU policy, and conform it to mirror his own “warped” understanding of EU vis-a-vis Hamas relations.
That Tuomioja’s own prescription for how to handle the Hamas dilemma was not approved, is a sign of cooler heads prevailing in the body of EU decision makers. That Tuomioja tried to get recognition for the Hamas the first place, is cause for alarm, and speaks loudly for the need to follow this man’s endeavors more closely. KGS
Special thanks to that “special someone” for some very astute observations!