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Soini: Violence cannot be condoned

Finnish Foreign Minister, and chairman of the populist Finns Party, Timo Soini has told Yle that he is planning talks with other leaders in his party about claims of links between some Finns Party members and right-wing extremist groups. He condemned any acts of violence or threats of violence.

Timo Soini
Timo Soini. Image: Yle

Interviewed in the US where he has been attending the United Nations General Assembly, Soini said that both legal instruments and public discussion are needed to counter acts of violence.

"It is clear that violence and the threat of violence cannot be condoned. One may not present threats, verbal or physical. Such a thing cannot be condoned by any measure," Soini told Yle

It has been claimed that some members of Soini's Finns Party have links to extremist organizations and movements. He stressed that his party and its membership should not be labeled because of the actions of some individuals.

"The Finns Party is honourable. It is Finland's second largest party and a government partner which has hundreds of thousands of members. They cannot be stigmatized. I object to this kind of general labelling. As chairman, I cannot accept it," stated Soini.

Soini did, however, concede that there may be some isolated cases.

"Certainly, it will be good to find out if the information presented in public is true. Our party secretary deals with membership affairs and the chair of the parliamentary group deals with MPs. I intend to talk with them both," Soini added.

Courts will decide

In a recent blog posting, Timo Soini took up both the arrest of two asylum seekers suspected of homicide in Otanmäki in Kajaani, and the death of a man after a neo-Nazi demonstration in Helsinki.

According to Soini he wrote about both incidents because they were the most recent examples of violence in the country.

"My understanding is that these were the two most recent cases and that's why they are there. Both must be totally condemned. These types of unfortunate incidents also take place among ethnic Finns. The courts will make the final determination as for who is responsible, but two people have lost their lives, and that is a terrible thing," Soini explained to Yle.

Timo Soini recognizes that the atmosphere in public discussion has become more strained. Debate has become harsher, and this he says, is also to be seen in threats against leading political figures.

"I have personal experience of threats. And it's gone beyond threats, for example when shots were fired at [former National Coalition Party leader] Alexander Stubb's home," noted Soini.

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