President sees FM change as indication of "new times"
Halonen welcomes emphasis on gender equality and good behaviour
President Tarja Halonen sees the removal of Ilkka Kanerva (Nat. Coalition Party) from the post of Minister for Foreign Affairs following a scandal involving text messages sent to a dancer to be an indication of "new times" in Finnish politics.
"Even though people might still be as they were before, they need to adapt to this", said Halonen during a press conference at the NATO summit in Bucharest.
Kanerva himself was originally supposed to have attended the meeting. Halonen said that she did not have to offer explanations about his absence, beyond giving assurances of the continuity of Finland’s chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
In the President’s view, the trend in Finland follows along the lines prevailing in other countries. She sees both positive and negative sides in the growing expectation of blamelessness among public officials.
"If we don't use the word 'blackmail', then at least risky situations could increase", Halonen said, commenting on the negative aspects. On the positive side, she noted that "gender equality and decent behaviour are emphasised."
Halonen said that she learned about Kanerva's impending departure from office at about ten in the evening on Monday, and that she went through the situation with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) by midnight.
Various sources say that the matter was widely known among politicians and civil servants during the day on Monday.
Halonen emphasised the importance of the Finnish constitution both with respect to the process involved in Kanerva’s departure, and in her work with his successor Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party).
Foreign Minister Stubb was officially sworn into office on Friday.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Exhausted Kanerva cancels participation at conference in Estonia (31.1.2008)
Stubb called back to Finland already on Sunday (2.4.2008)
MEP Alexander Stubb to replace Ilkka Kanerva as Foreign Minister (1.4.2008)