Soini not apologising to Olli Rehn for Bobrikov remark
“Comparison was appropriate”, Soini says
The Finns Party Chairman, MP Timo Soini, says that he will not apologise to European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn for comments made on a current affairs television programme on Wednesday in which Soini referred to Rehn as a "Brussels Bobrikov".
Nikolay Bobrikov, a Russian official, served as the Governor-General of Finland from 1898 to 1904, when Finland was an autonomous duchy under the Russian Czar.
He helped implement a hated Russification programme aimed at undermining Finland’s autonomous status. He was assassinated in 1904 by Finnish patriot Eugen Schauman.
On Thursday Rehn issued a public statement saying that Soini’s analogy was inappropriate and said that the expected that Soini would “apologise for his disgusting statement”.
“This is both insulting to a patriotic man like myself, and it is dangerous hate speech in light of its reference to a person who was murdered”, Rehn wrote.
Soini felt that the analogy was appropriate.
“I do not intend to apologise. A person in a public position needs to be able to take criticism. I know something about this myself”, Soini said to Helsingin Sanomat in Parliament.
“Some people seem to be more sensitive than others.”
As for Rehn’s patriotism, Soini sees it as patriotism toward the EU.
“In his role as commissioner, he has signed an oath of loyalty to the EU. He represents the EU, and not Finland.”
“Brussels behaves toward countries in economic distress as if they had all of the power over these countries. The IMF, the Commission, and the European Central Bank dictate what must be done."
Olli Rehn received flanking support from the leader of the opposition Centre Party Mari Kiviniemi, who wasted little time before deploring Timo Soini's remarks. She said it was both sad and embarrassing that a domestic politician would make such comparisons, and noted that Finns should support those of their number who had been elected to significant international positions.
Rehn is himself a member of the Centre Party, and was an MP and MEP in the 1990s, prior to his duties at the European Union.
Soini has been consistently opposed to the Greek bailout arrangements, and his Finns Party, currently in opposition, but with 39 MPs following an election victory last April, are staunchly eurosceptic.
Olli Rehn, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs
Nikolay Bobrikov (Wikipedia)