Sign up for our newsletter ⟩
News |

Finland's Prime Minister condemns reported chemical attacks in Syria

Finnish PM Juha Sipilä reacted to horrifying photos of a chemical attack on a rebel-held town in eastern Ghouta with condemnation. "The world's political balance is shifting," he says.

Juha Sipilä
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä used part of his regular radio interview with Finland's public broadcaster Yle on Sunday to condemn chemical attacks that have reportedly took place in Syria. He said the war there is "extremely frustrating", as now Turkey and Russia have joined leagues with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

Reuters reports that Washington has announced that if the reports are confirmed, it would demand an immediate international response.

Sipilä said in his interview that he hopes this latest round of atrocities will at last guarantee that humanitarian aid and other forms of assistance would reach the area's victims.

"Turkey and Russia support the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, so this makes an odd setup," he says.

The Finnish premier said that if it is confirmed that chemical weapons have again been used, French President Emmanuel Macron has already announced that France would react without delay.

"The world's political balance is shifting. Russia and Syria have found each other. If the US pulls out of the conflict, something else will fill the vacuum," he says.

Continued defence of active model

When asked about the controversial activation model his government introduced at the start of the year, the Prime Minister said that from the standpoint of Finland's unemployed, the number of jobs available continues to grow and there are now more companies that are prepared to offer comprehensive training in regions like Kainuu.

"If we humbly look at the situation in this way, we will surely ascertain the structure of joblessness [in Finland]. In a few years, we will then be able to approach the threshold of this unemployment configuration," Sipilä said.

Sipilä said he was still not prepared to include volunteer work as one of the active model's criteria that would allow unemployment benefit recipients to keep their full payments.

"In my opinion, the independent employment agency recently established by the MTK is a great example of the kind of activity that could lead to longer term, full-time work positions," he said.

Helping the most needy

He says his government has discussed allowing training arranged by Finland trade unions and voluntary training programmes to be accepted as active model criteria.

"Training can also take place via the internet, as online courses give people without work opportunities to study from their homes," Sipilä said.

The Prime Minister also said in the interview that improving the situation of vulnerable people receiving basic assistance will be one of his government's main priorities in this week's budget talks.

"Employment figures are up throughout the country. Quickly setting up programmes that would see companies providing retraining opportunities would be another way to get people straight back into work," Sipilä said.

Latest in: News


Our picks