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Minister Orpo torpedoes new Finns Party minister Terho's talk of leaving the euro

Finance Minister Petteri Orpo says newly-appointed Finns Party minister Sampo Terho's talk of leaving the European Union's common currency is incompatible with a spot in the government's three-party coalition. Appearing on Yle's morning programme Saturday, Orpo also said Finland is doing everything it can to attract the Nordic's largest bank chain, Nordea, to move its headquarters to Helsinki.

Valtiovarainministeri Petteri Orpo (kok.) Ylen Ykkösaamun vieraana 29. huhtikuuta.
Petteri Orpo on Yle's Ykkösaamu. Image: Yle

Finland's Finance Minister Petteri Orpo sat for an interview Saturday morning on Yle's morning talk show. Among other things, he weighed on recent campaign-trail comments from populist Finns Party MP Sampo Terho.

"A member of the Finnish government can't be saying this like this, this is clear. Finland is an active member of the European Union, in line with our government programme and our best interests. We belong to the eurozone," said Orpo, who is also chair of Finland's centre-right National Coalition Party, also a government coalition member.

He says the government can't have a difference of opinion on Finland's EU membership, so he expects new ministers representing the Eurosceptic Finns Party to commit to the government's appointed EU policy.

"I expect all government ministers to stand behind this policy, so any talk of Fixit or leaving the euro should stay somewhere else," he said.

The Finns Party nominated MP Sampo Terho to a new minister position in charge of culture, sports and European affairs on Thursday. Terho is also in the running for leadership of his party, after the 20-year reign of Timo Soini comes to an end this summer. In his campaign's opening speech, Terho said it is likely that Finland will leave the eurozone in the next few years, and that he is in support of his party pushing for a future referendum on exiting the EU, or a "Fixit".

PM confirms gov't position

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä, whose Centre Party is the third part of the ruling coalition, said Terho's new minister position will have no effect on Finland's government policy.

"We agreed these things together, and what is written there will continue to be respected," he commented from Brussels on Saturday afternoon.

Orpo would not comment to Yle about whether government cooperation with the Finns Party would continue if strongly EU-critical candidates like Terho or the even more radical MP Jussi Halla-aho are elected to lead the party on June 11 in Jyväskylä. Former NCP minister and future Helsinki mayor Jan Vapaavuori has, for example, said that a party led by Halla-aho has no place in government..

"Of course the NCP can't be in a government that works against its values, but let's wait and see what happens at the party congress," said Orpo.

Nordea HQ to Finland?

Orpo also told Yle that Finland is working hard to coax the Nordic countries' largest chain of banks, Nordea, to transfer its headquarters to Finland. Nordea's Finnish-born board director Björn Wahlroos has said the financial giant is thinking of moving its main offices from Stockholm to either Finland or Denmark because of Sweden's recent decision to significantly raise the bank's obligatory stability fund contributions. 

Orpo said his Ministry, the Bank of Finland and the Finnish Financial Supervisory Authority are all working hard to make a move to Finland a reality.

"Nordea is very welcome. It is the largest bank in the Nordics and a significant player on the Finnish market. It would be a great thing for Finland," he said.

Wahlroos told the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat on Thursday that he was surprised by Finland's tepid attitude, saying that in Denmark they've made it clear that Nordea would be welcomed with joy. 

"It's not our way to make a bunch of noise, but we are quite serious in our intent. We are exploring this from every angle. But when it comes down to it, it will be Nordea's decision," Orpo said.

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