Opposition parties join in criticism of Mario Monti interview
Critical comments about Finnish policy toward the European debt crisis voiced by Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in a recent magazine interview have brought reactions both from the Finnish government and opposition parties.
In an interview with the German news magazine Der Spiegel Monti accused Finland of repeatedly undermining agreements reached at European summit meetings. He speculated that one reason for this might be that the Finnish government has to take the views of Parliament into consideration too much.
At the end of the interview Monti said that European governments should not commit themselves completely to decisions of their parliaments.
"This is incredible, considering that he has not even taken his party into elections", said MP Timo Soini, chairman of the opposition Finns Party. Monti is the head of a temporary caretaker government.
"We are setting up permanent and temporary mechanisms, and then [the countries needing help] come and bash the countries that are involved. Hopefully the Prime Minister will ignore the ponderings of his Italian counterpart", Soini said.
"The Italians would do well to concentrate on getting their own competitiveness in order", said Centre Party chairman Juha Sipilä.
Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen (Nat. Coalition Party), who hosted Monti’s visit to Finland last week, also rejected Monti’s criticism. According to Katainen, Finland’s differing stance is based on taking a different view on matters than Monti does. It does not mean that Finland would oppose all attempts to find solutions.
"I was sincerely satisfied with the discussion that we had", Katainen said. He added that the two discussed the issues over which Monti had criticised Finland.
On Tuesday Italy put great emphasis on the fact that Monti had given the interview before the visit. On the other hand, he had given his approval for the publication after the visit.
"I know Mario Monti well and I respect him as the Italian Prime Minister, but perhaps he could have refrained from giving that part of the interview. It was a somewhat unnecessary comment in a situation in which the common spirit should be strengthened."
Monti’s comments downplaying the role of national parliaments were criticised in other European countries as well.
Finnish Speaker of Parliament Eero Heinäluoma (SDP) characterised Monti’s choice of words as unfortunate.
"We might discuss what is needed more in Europe – leaders’ own solutions, or support from the people for the decisions that are made."
"Monti is by nature a pondering type who puts forward various aspects in his statements. He perhaps does not always see what kinds of conclusions can be drawn from them", Heinäluoma said.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Italian PM sharply critical of Finland (7.8.2012)
Finland and Italy emphasise common ground during Monti visit (2.8.2012)
Market reactions to Italian austerity measures frustrate Mario Monti (1.8.2012)
Interview with Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti (Der Spiegel English)