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Foreign Minister: Downing of Malaysian airliner mass murder

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja has strongly condemned the alleged gunning down of a Malaysian Airlines commercial plane over eastern Ukraine Thursday. Tuomioja has called for an independent international investigation into the incident.

Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja pulled no punches condemning the gunning down of a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane Thursday. Image: Yle

Following Thursday’s fatal incident in which Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 was believed to be shot down carrying 298 passengers and crew, Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja said parties involved in arming the pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine should also be condemned. However he said that the incident could also be interpreted as a watershed moment.

”In the best case scenario this could be a turning point where the Ukrainian crisis could be wound down and the separatists disarmed. We are living in crucial times. This is an example of how this kind of tragedy can change the course of the situation,” Tuomioja added.

”It’s quite clear that although no one would have deliberately shot down a passenger plane, this is a serious case of mass murder. That’s a crime. The guilty parties must be found out and held accountable,” the foreign minister added.

”Separatists using intimidation”

The Finnish foreign minister said that he considers the separatists in east Ukraine to be a criminal group.

”They don’t even enjoy the support of the locals, they have taken control using intimidation,” Tuomioja said while in Pori, western Finland.

He said that the recent events may also come to be interpreted as a turning point: the international community will also begin to demand accountability on the part of those parties or individuals who have delivered arms to the perpetrators of Thursday’s incident.

”Gaza campaign criminal”

Tuomioja also commented on rising tensions between Israel and the militant group Hamas in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinians have died in the Israeli offensive which began with the tit-for-tat kidnappings and deaths of young men on both sides. Tuomioja described the Israeli campaign as being as good as criminal. However he said that some solution must be found.

”The death of any Palestinian or Israeli can trigger a small scale war. This will continue as long as there is no peace between these two regimes. The last round of peace efforts collapsed in the spring and it must be revived,” he declared.

Tuomioja called for the participation of the international community, as well as for incentives. He proposed that trade with the European Union should not continue on a  "business as usual" basis under the current circumstances.

”I’ve sensed the frustration. Fires are being put out, schools repaired and in a few years the same thing will continue. This must change,” Tuomioja concluded.