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Party leaders condemn Finns Party Youth plans to burn EU flag

Finns Party chair Timo Soini responded on Saturday to news that his party’s youth faction plans to burn the EU flag at a rally this weekend in the southern city of Mikkeli. He says he doesn’t understand the youth organisation’s desire to intentionally provoke peopl.e’s ire. Burning the EU flag in Finland is not a punishable offence

Osiitain poltettu EU-lippu.
There are no laws on the EU level or in Finland against desecrating the EU flag. Image: Orestis Panagiotou / EPA

Finns Party chair Timo Soini is baffled by his party’s youth contingent’s plan to burn the EU flag at a party rally on Saturday.

The Finns Party youth organisation intends to release its European policy party manifesto this weekend in the southern Finland city of Mikkeli. The programme for the occasion mentions that the group would burn the EU flag in Mikkeli’s church square as part of Saturday’s proceedings at 4 pm.

A youth group spokesman says the flag-burning symbolises the group’s transformation from a party critical of the EU to a party totally against the European Union.

“Not something Finns would do”

Soini told Yle that he can’t understand what his party’s youth organisation stands to gain with the deliberate provocation. He says the youth group is aware of his stand on the issue.

“Flag-burning is just not something Finns would do. There’s no sense in it,” he says.

Instead of rallying against the EU in this way, Soini would rather see his party’s youth campaigning to improve the situation of Finland’s unemployed youth, for example.

“Young people will do what they feel they have to, and they have to assume responsibility for their actions,” the party chair says.

MP also opposes the inappropriate behaviour

Finns Party MP Mika Niikko says he too does not support the flag-burning plans of his party’s youth faction. In a statement he said that the party’s youth needs to understand that there is no sense practicing politics that move outside the limits of socially-accepted behaviour.

Niikko says that while it is a good thing that the youth group is pursuing patriotic politics, the means they have chosen will invariably invoke more disapproval than praise.

Desecration or disrespectful treatment of the Finnish flag can lead to fines in Finland, but there is no punishment for similar treatment of the European Union flag at the EU level. Each EU country divines its own national laws on its country’s symbols like flags. In some countries, the rules have been extended to include flags from other countries and international organisations.

In Finland, the Ministry of Interior is responsible for enforcing rules associated with the Finnish flag, but when contacted about the matter, the Ministry said the Representation of the European Commission in Finland should answers any EU flag concerns.

The Commission representation office in Finland commented that the young Finns Party group’s plans to burn the EU flag are regrettable. It reminds the group that, among other things, the Flag of Europe is meant to symbolize peace and shared European values.

Safety precautions were taken, actual event was low-key

In its announcement of Saturday’s proceedings, the Finns Party Youth declared that all of the necessary precautions were taken with regard to the burning of the flag, and the rescue services and police have been duly informed.

The Finns Party Youth ended up cutting the EU flag into pieces ahead of time at its office and burning them in a metal container at the demonstration. Some 25 youth party members were on hand at the time.

Finns Party Youth Chair Sebastian Tynkkynen denies that his organisation would have ever under any circumstances desecrated any nation’s flag.

“The EU flag does not represent any nation. Our organisation works from the premise that, above all else, individual nations’ rights to determine their own affairs should be respected.”

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