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Hautala aims sights at Euro parliament

Outgoing International Development Minister Heidi Hautala says she may be setting her sights on a European Parliament candidacy next. Hautala resigned her post yesterday after admitting to influencing a state-owned company to back down on pressing charges against Greenpeace activists last spring.

Heidi Hautala.
Outgoing minister Heidi Hautala said her talks with PM Jyrki Katainen helped her make a decision on resigning. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Speaking for the first time since her public resignation Friday, Hautala told Yle’s Ykkösaamu programme that running for European Parliament elections next year is one option she would be considering.

Hautala served as a member of the European Parliament from 1995 to 2003 and from 2009 to 2011, when she left the post to take on the portfolio of Minister for International Development and Minister with responsibility for Ownership Steering issues.

Decision after talks with PM

Hautala said her decision to resign followed discussions with Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen, who she said was keen to know whether she gave political guidance to the state-owned Arctia Shipping.

“The Prime Minister was very much interested in whether I gave political directions or not – directly or indirectly. When it emerged that I had, then that was that,” she outlined.

The outgoing minister said she was happy that Katainen is now moving to clarify the boundaries of ownership steering, but added that she would have liked to participate in the discussions.

She said she would propose scaling influence in state-owned companies to correspond with the level of government ownership.

“In that case, the Arctia Shipping case would have been perfectly legal,” she added.

Conflicting accounts, poor memory to blame

Hautala also felt that part of the reason for her resignation was due to having provided conflicting accounts of what happened in the Arctia Shipping case.

"The major controversies often arise when there is little time to remember. And maybe the moral of the story is that ministers should be very particular in getting the record straight. In fact, everything should be documented, but when phones are changed, text messages, emails and even computer memories are lost, then getting the facts straight can take some time,” Hautala said in her defence.

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