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Finns Party MEP claims to travel on mysterious diplomatic passport

Teuvo Hakkarainen plans to travel to Honduras via Mexico and Guatemala to meet a female friend despite coronavirus restrictions.

Teuvo Hakkarainen Brysselin EU-parlamentissa.
File Photo of Teuvo Hakkarainen in the European Parliament. Image: Esa Syväkuru / Yle

The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs has not issued MEP Teuvo Hakkarainen (Finns) with a diplomatic passport, according to Yle sources at the ministry.

The European Parliament has also confirmed to Yle that MEPs are not generally provided with diplomatic passports.

In an interview with Yle over the weekend, Hakkarainen said he was going to Honduras to meet a female friend and that he had been provided with a diplomatic passport in order to make the trip.

The controversial MEP -- who has past convictions for assault and sexual harassment as well as for incitement against an ethnic group -- confirmed he has a diplomatic passport again this week, but despite requests from Yle he has not yet provided any evidence.

The purpose of a diplomatic passport is to secure the conditions in which diplomats can operate, for example in situations of war or crisis, and are considered on a case-by-case basis.

These conditions are set out in a regulation that was introduced in 1993, and is publicly accessible via Finlex, an online database of Finnish legislative and other judicial information.

The issue is also regulated by an internal order of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, which Yle has received possession of, and found that membership of a committee of the European Parliament is not in itself a basis for a diplomatic passport.

However, according to Hakkarainen, he was issued a diplomatic passport because he is a member of the European Parliament's working group on Latin America, and he is planning to travel to Honduras via Mexico and Guatemala.

In total, about 3,700 diplomatic passports have been issued by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and coronavirus restrictions do also apply to diplomatic passports.

Coronavirus situation in Central America remains difficult

According to the Finnish Embassy in Mexico, all borders into Guatemala are currently closed.

"Entry is restricted to only Guatemalan nationals, foreigners holding a valid residence permit in Guatemala, and diplomats accredited to the country. Public transport is also not operating in the country and movement is very limited," coordinator Arja Perälä from the Finnish Embassy in Mexico told Yle.

Throughout July, Guatemala has had a total curfew at weekends, and anyone entering the country must quarantine for 14 days.

Perälä added that all borders with Honduras are also closed and entry is only possible for Honduran citizens, foreigners with a valid residence permit for Honduras, and diplomats accredited to the country.

As with Guatemala, public transport is not currently operating in Honduras and outdoor mobility is severely restricted in the country.

"As a general rule, a diplomatic passport entitles you to special treatment only in the case of a diplomat who is accredited to or comes on an official visit to that country. For tourist or private trips, a diplomatic passport does not necessarily guarantee special treatment," Perälä added.

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