Erkki Tuomioja is the current Minister of Foreign Affairs in Finland, born in July 1, 1946. He was the Minister of Trade and Industry in the first cabinet of Paavo Lipponen (1999-2000), and in the second cabinet (2000-2003) of Lipponen he is the Minister of Foreign Affairs. He continues in this position in the current (Matti Vanhanen's) cabinet. He has been a member of parliament in 1970-79 and 1991- onwards. He is a Doctor of Political Science, an economist and a docent of political history in the University of Helsinki. He is a member of the Social Democrat Party. The leftmost leftists in that party, actually.
His statements are not always 100% politically correct and insulting no one as politicians' statements "should" be, considering that he's the chief diplomat of a nation, or the highest official in foreign affairs. He has the habit of saying out aloud the things that everyone thinks, but doesn't dare to say. For example, he was interviewed by Suomen Kuvalehti about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. His statement(1) made sense, but many people complained. He said: "I am appalled that the policy of Israel is to humiliate, subjugate and impoverish the Palestinians. What else can it breed than endless hate. ... It is quite shocking, how some people impose to the Palestinians the same politics they were victims to themselves in the 1930's."
As a direct result of this, four cars owned by Finnish UN soldiers were hammered to pieces by Israeli extremists. He caused quite a big fuss, but he didn't take his words back, like a "good politician" should do. Everyone knew that thing, but only Tuomioja dared to say it and stand behind this opinion in public. He consulted diplomats and wrote a letter to Shimon Peres and restored the relationship between Finland and Israel. That doesn't mean he has changed his opinion: "My trust on the possibility of realistic and rational discussion about difficult issues has been swayed by the systematic misrepresentation of my statements and history of Finland that I have observed. The misrepresentation has been used to agitate people to stone anyone, who utters even one word of disagreement about the Israeli policy."
Apparently he did it again. A journalist - was it Suomen Kuvalehti? - interviewed him in Finnish. The journalist presented him a question about Sharon and Arafat: "So you have choose between a war criminal and a terrorist?" Tuomioja gave an answer to the effect that the sides are not this extreme. His reply begun with the word "niin". It can mean three things:
- "Yes, I agree with your statement"
- "I heard what you said"
- "Well, ..."
Now you can guess which interpretation - even if taking words out of context
- the Israeli government
chose. And the same hulabalo
(1) Due to the possibility of misinterpretation in translation, here are his original words in the original language. The quotes are from his own site at http://www2.eduskunta.fi/fakta/edustaja/357/.
"Minua kauhistuttaa, että Israelin linjana on nöyryyttää, alistaa ja köyhdyttää palestiinalaiset. Mitä muuta siitä voi syntyä kuin loputonta vihaa. ... On aika järkyttävää, että jotkut ajavat suhteessa palestiinalaisiin samanlaista politiikkaa, jonka uhreiksi he itse joutuivat 1930-luvulla."
"Luottamustani asiallisen ja järkiperäisen keskustelun mahdollisuuksiin vaikeista asioista on horjuttanut havaitsemani systemaattinen sekä minuun että Suomen historiaan kohdistunut vääristely, jolla ihmisiä on kiihotettu kivittämään sellaista, joka lausuu yhdenkin poikkipuolisen sanan Israelin politiikasta."
This is a Know Your Enemy Production