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Tuomioja's euro remarks in British newspaper raise eyebrows

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has told Yle that the British newspaper The Telegraph placed a misleading headline on an interview with him on the future of the euro. In the article, Tuomioja said Europe must openly face the possibility of a break-up of the euro.

Erkki Tuomioja.
Erkki Tuomioja. Image: Yle

The article quickly became the most-read financial story on The Telegraph's website.

In an Yle radio interview on Friday morning, Tuomioja criticized the title of the Telegraph article as misleading. According to Tuomioja, he only stated what should be clear to everyone.

“In an uncertain situation all ministries consider whether such a thing could happen, that the euro would fall apart,” Tuomioja said on the morning radio programme.

The minister also expanded on his criticism of four eurozone leaders, saying that they had circumvented transparent, normal ways of doing things.

"A red line for us"

In the interview published on Friday, Tuomioja stressed that no one, not even the Finns Party, are advocating a break-up, but that officials in Helsinki have an "operational plan for any eventuality".

Tuomioja also said that the break-up of the euro would not mean the end of the European Union. “It could make the EU function better,” the Foreign Minister added.

The minister was also concerned about the contested status of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) as senior creditor.

“The ESM loans have priority. That is a red line for us. We are very concerned that the rules of the ESM seem to be changing,” Tuomioja noted.

In another controversial comment in the Telegraph interview, Finland’s Foreign Minister said he did not trust “a gang of four” EU insiders, including the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi, who, according to Tuomioja, plan to “ensnare member states into some kind of fiscal union”.

The British paper called Tuomioja’s intervention “"the bluntest warning to date by a senior eurozone minister". This sentiment was also echoed in the title of the article: “Finland prepares for break-up of eurozone”.

Stubb: Not government stance

In response to Tuomioja’s comments, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb stressed that Finland is 100 percent committed to the euro.

"The foreign minister's speculation does not reflect the government's position," Stubb told the news agency Reuters. 

Earlier this summer, comments erroneously attributed to Finance Minister Jutta Urpilainen that suggested Finland was threatening to leave the euro were widely reported internationally.

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