But they are not go­ing to give up their per­ma­nent sta­tus, veto right: Timo Soini.

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Fin­land’s For­eign Min­is­ter Timo Soini, who was also that coun­try’s Deputy Prime Min­is­ter, was in New Delhi to at­tend the Fifth Global Con­fer­ence on Cy­ber Space. When The Sun­day Guardian caught up with him on Thurs­day, he was yet to meet Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­is­ter Sushma Swaraj. Once a Euroscep­tic, Soini, in an in­ter­view with The Sun­day Guardian, talked about In­dia, UNSC re­forms, NSG, Euro­pean Union, the ris­ing tide of na­tion­al­ism in Europe against asy­lum seek­ers, and China. Ex­cerpts: Q: What brings you to In­dia and what is In­dia’s im­por­tance to Fin­land and vice-versa? A: We are in a very good re­la­tion­ship with In­dia and I’m go­ing to meet my coun­ter­part, the For­eign Min­is­ter. Also I met Mr Ak­bar (Min­is­ter of State for Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs) who vis­ited Fin­land lately. And we were able to meet again. Then there is this big cy­ber con­fer­ence as well. So, it’s two flies with one stone—to meet the For­eign Min­is­ter and also take part in the con­fer­ence to­mor­row. Q: I heard you also met the Prime Min­is­ter. How was it? What was your im­pres­sion of him? A: Very shortly. It was just meet and greet. We did not have a bi­lat­eral, but we said hello to each other and he said that it’s nice to have you here in this con­fer­ence. There were so many peo­ple. I did shake hands and we talked a bit. He is a man of strong will. I watched his speech and (he is) am­bi­tious. He wants to re­struc­ture In­dian pol­i­tics. Am­bi­tious, but also, I would imag­ine, very good with rank and file peo­ple, with one to one meet­ings. And if I have un­der­stood it right, there is some lo­cal elec­tion in a state and cam­paign­ing is on­go­ing. I know (what that means), be­cause I was party leader for 20 years and I stepped down this sum­mer... I think he has done very well if we look at the eco­nom­i­cal fig­ures…statis­tics which are about how good a coun­try In­dia is for in­vest­ments. I don’t know per­son­ally, but this is the im­pres­sion I get.

Mr Ak­bar and I met two times... It was im­pres­sive how much he knew about the his­tory of Fin­land and of course bi­lat­eral things...We don’t have bi­lat­eral prob­lems. In­vest­ment, com­merce, im­port, ex­port—it (bi­lat­eral re­la­tion­ship) has got the di­rec­tion, but there is still a lot of po­ten­tial. Of course, one big thing is that the CEO of Nokia is now an In­dian man (Ra­jeev Suri), so that is ob­vi­ously one link be­tween In­dia and Fin­land. In­dia is the biggest democ­racy in the world, so it’s im­por­tant. And then there was also long­stand­ing back­ground with co-op­er­a­tion with so called in­de­pen­dent coun­tries—who were not part of the mil­i­tary al­liances. That’s the his­tor­i­cal back­ground. Then of course, in­di­vid­ual links are im­por­tant and there have been quite a lot of min­is­te­rial vis­its and of course we hope to have your Prime Min­is­ter in Fin­land. Also, I will in­vite your For­eign Min­is­ter to Fin­land. Q: In what other ways can In­dia and Fin­land en­hance their bi­lat­eral re­la­tions? A: Of course, there are con­crete projects. There can be sus­tain­able en­ergy, education, ICT—those three are the big ones. There can also be in­vest­ments in sus­tain­able en­ergy, so­lar en­ergy, re­new­ables... And then of course, it’s im­por­tant on Fin­land’s part—as part of the Euro­pean Union—the Free Trade Agree­ment be­tween In­dia and the Euro­pean Union, which is under ne­go­ti­a­tions (to get con­cluded)… And also, the in­ter­na­tional field is very un­rest­ful and there are coun­tries who are not mem­bers or parts of the con­flicts. It’s im­por­tant to dis­cuss this big pic­ture. So we need to dis­cuss about Syria and Mid­dle East and Myan­mar and talk about a lot of in­ter­na­tional issues as well. Q: Fin­land sup­ports In­dia’s in­clu­sion in NSG and UNSC. Did you talk any­thing about that? A: Yes, about this so-called P-5. It’s a lit­tle bit out­dated in a way, but we must be also re­al­is­tic, that they are not go­ing to give up their per­ma­nent sta­tus and veto right. But what may be done in the fu­ture is that coun­tries like In­dia, Japan, Brazil, could be more or less permanently with the work of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil (made part of the UNSC), but maybe with­out the veto right. So, some kind of this approach I see fea­si­ble and pos­si­ble, be­cause of course sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent now... Q: What do you think about the op­po­si­tion to In­dia en­ter­ing NSG? It’s com­ing pri­mar­ily from China. What is Fin­land’s stand on that? A: We are open that you should be in­cluded, more or less. But it’s not in our power to de­cide, but we think it could ben­e­fit also the small coun­tries that not only those three-five coun­tries could dic­tate things. That is not fea­si­ble in the fu­ture… Q: Since you talked about EU, and also Syria and the Mid­dle East, what fu­ture does the EU have and also what about the prob­lem of il­le­gal mi­gra­tion that is tak­ing place? A: I have a Euroscep­tic his­tory, and I am not ashamed of it. But I am also a po­lit­i­cal re­al­ist, so Fin­land is not leav­ing the Euro­pean Union. I don’t sup­port the Fin­land’s exit from the Euro­pean Union, but I un­der­stand the crit­i­cism to­wards the Euro­pean sys­tem, whose biggest out­come is Brexit. And I think the warn­ing signs were there for decades—(the prob­lem of) re­la­tions be­tween an un­elected com­mis­sion and elected na­tional gov­ern­ments. But Euro­pean Union has also so many sta­bil­is­ing and good sides that it should pre­vail, but it should de­velop it­self... But for ex­am­ple, I was very heav­ily against the bailout pol­icy and I still think that it was a bad mis­take, a mo­ral haz­ard. It caused the re­ces­sion and the rise of Euro-scep­ti­cism, be­cause those lessons were not learnt. And now we have more or less over­come that sit­u­a­tion and if we don’t make (sim­i­lar) mis­takes again—make each in­di­vid­ual coun­try re­spon­si­ble for the er­rors of other coun­tries, for er­rors of banks... Then the Euro­pean Union has a lot to do with se­cu­rity, with trade, with dig­i­tal­iza­tion, sen­si­ble econ­omy and free trade and so forth. That is what I fully sup­port. But I used to be a crit­i­cal and an­gry young man, now I am only a crit­i­cal mid­dle aged man. So I see the good points. And in this in­ter­na­tional world, Europe is stronger to­gether and Europe is needed. We are at the peaks of power in the world and I think the prin­ci­ples of human rights, rule of law, equal­ity be­tween men and women, they are very im­por­tant. They are pre­cious things. They should be ad­vanced. Q: So what is the so­lu­tion to refugee prob­lem, con­sid­er­ing you are talk­ing about human rights? A lot of re­sis­tance is also com­ing from in­side Europe. A: I think the Africa is a fa­tal (im­por­tant) is­sue to the Euro­pean Union. We also have a pro­tec­tive econ­omy, es­pe­cially when it comes to agri­cul­ture. And the fact is, if we don’t give a fair chance to African peo­ple to have their prod­ucts sold in Europe or com­pete in Europe, then the other op­tion is to take their peo­ple. It’s ei­ther the prod­ucts or the peo­ple. And I think that the prod­uct is the bet­ter op­tion. We should help those peo­ple whose lives are in dan­ger, who are per­se­cuted in their coun­tries, but there is no way we can take ev­ery­body who wants to come to Europe. Q: Are you talk­ing about Syria as well? Or are you talk­ing about mi­gra­tion from Africa specif­i­cally? A: It de­pends. There are peo­ple, for ex­am­ple, from Syria, who are in life dan­ger (face life threats) and should be granted asy­lum. But for in­stance, there are peo­ple from Iraq and from some other coun­tries, where peo­ple are not in life dan­ger, but are eco­nomic mi­grants. And of course, if you come as an eco­nomic mi­grant, then you don’t get the sta­tus of a refugee. That’s a dif­fer­ent story then. We don’t say to peo­ple that you can­not come. You can come if you have a visa or a work­ing per­mit. There are hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple com­ing. But this asy­lum cri­sis was quite se­vere in many coun­tries. And now, one of the politi- cal con­se­quences we see in the Ger­man elec­tions. The elec­tion re­sults in many Euro­pean coun­tries have been such that they have not been able to form gov­ern­ment any­more. In Hol­land, it took seven months to cre­ate the gov­ern­ment. Now we do not know what the sit­u­a­tion would be in Ger­many. But we must be human, we must also un­der­stand that there must be a civilised and rule based way to come to Europe. Then we also have the prob­lem of re­lo­ca­tion and re­set­tle­ment of the peo­ple. Some of th­ese east­ern Euro­pean coun­tries they don’t take any­body. That of course raises eye­brows: if you are not tak­ing any­body then why should some­body else? There is a grow­ing di­vide in Europe, which can be trou­ble­some in very near fu­ture. Q: There has been some talk about a North Arc­tic cor­ri­dor be­ing formed and Fin­land be­com­ing a part for China’s One Belt One Road plan. What is Fin­land’s role in this? A: We think that con­nec­tiv­ity and econ­omy are very im­por­tant. It was only last week that the first train left Kou­vola (in Fin­land) to go to China. You can now send cargo from Fin­land to China, via Rus­sia. We think this is im­por­tant, but we also know that human rights can­not be over­looked. We have al­ways said that human rights and the rule of law are es­sen­tial. We usu­ally don’t teach other na­tions. But we say that when the rule of law pre­vails, when equal­ity be­tween men and women is in good shape, and when there is a rule based sys­tem in so­ci­ety and free­dom of speech, usu­ally those coun­tries pros­per. Q: But China is pros­per­ing with­out quite a few of th­ese things. A: Yes, but there are peo­ple in jail. We know that coun­tries—I don’t want to point at any coun­try by name— but usu­ally those coun­tries who feel that this (telling them) is some kind of a prob­lem; (or that they) can be an­noyed, but we don’t care about that. Well-known soft­ware in­ven­tor and thinker Sree Iyer has raised ques­tions on Karthi Chi­dambaram—cur­rently under CBI scan­ner—be­ing al­lowed to travel abroad, os­ten­si­bly to ac­com­pany his daugh­ter Aditi to Cam­bridge Univer­sity, UK, where she is seek­ing ad­mis­sion. Cit­ing rel­e­vant dates from Cam­bridge Univer­sity’s aca­demic cal­en­dar, Iyer has al­leged that Karthi’s travel dates—1 to 10 De­cem­ber—do not match with the univer­sity’s ad­mis­sion dates.

Karthi is the son of for­mer Union Min­is­ter P. Chi­dambaram. The CBI had in the re­cent past is­sued a look­out cir­cu­lar against Karthi on 18 July after their in­ves­ti­ga­tion was re­ported to have found ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in For­eign In­vest­ment Pro­mo­tion Board clearance, which his fa­ther P. Chi­dambaram awarded to a me­dia house dur­ing the UPA regime, in which he was heading the Finance Min­istry. Karthi has been named an ac­cused in the case. The look­out notice stip­u­lated that Karthi can­not travel abroad with­out the agency’s per­mis­sion.

Iyer, who has 36 patents in ar­eas of hard­ware, soft­ware, en­cryp­tion and sys­tems, said that a “quick read (of the Cam­bridge Univer­sity’s aca­demic cal­en­dar) sug­gests that the next term (Lent) be­gins on Jan 5, 2018. The pre­vi­ous term ends on Dec 19th. So why is Karthi leav­ing on Dec 1st? Is it re­ally Cam­bridge or some­thing near Cam­bridge? Even that does not jell...”

He fur­ther ar­gued, men­tion­ing his own grad­u­a­tion days at the US and the tra­di­tions preva­lent then, that it was very un­usual for par­ents to ac­com­pany stu­dents for com­plet­ing ad­mis­sion pro­ce­dures. “I cast my mind back to my stu­dent days when I ar­rived in the United States as a Grad­u­ate stu­dent, with 10 dol­lars in my pocket. It was late Au­gust and I had to take a Bus to go to the cam­pus, which was a fur­ther 60 miles (100 km) from the air­port. I knew no one in the Univer­sity and man­aged to sur­vive ( just like hun­dreds of oth­ers who were go­ing to col­lege). I did not see any par­ent (US or for­eign) who ac­com­pa­nied the stu­dent in the year I started. I do know of (only) one stu­dent whose par­ents ac­com­pa­nied him to the Univer­sity,” he has writ­ten in a let­ter.

Iyer added: “I am sure Supreme Court, the CBI lawyer and oth­ers care­fully went through Karthi’s ap­pli­ca­tion to as­cer­tain the dates/ venues/ let­ter of ad­mis­sion etc. Will Karthi clear the air and put at ease the fears of in­quir­ing minds?”

The Supreme Court on Mon­day, while re­ply­ing to an ap­pli­ca­tion filed by Karthi, granted him per­mis­sion to travel to UK for 10 days for his daugh­ter’s ad­mis­sion. The CBI had told the SC that “If the court is in­clined to al­low the re­spon­dent [Karthi Chi­dambaram] to leave In­dia for a lim­ited du­ra­tion and for the afore­said pur­pose [ad­mis­sion of his daugh­ter], it may do so”.

Fin­land’s For­eign Min­is­ter Timo Soini in New Delhi, on Thurs­day.

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