Finland’s ambassador addresses attacks on Israeli Embassy in Helsinki

The government of Finland takes very seriously the recent vandalism and attacks against the Embassy of Israel in Helsinki, Finland.

By KIRSIKKA LEHTO-ASIKAINEN
August 15, 2019 22:21
2 minute read.
Finland's flag flutters in Helsinki, Finland, May 3, 2017

Finland's flag flutters in Helsinki, Finland, May 3, 2017. (photo credit: INTS KALNINS / REUTERS)

Relations between Finland and Israel are long-standing, strong and diverse. We have active cooperation in the fields of trade, economy, culture and science. The Embassy of Finland in Tel Aviv is striving to strengthen further dialogue and cooperation between our countries together with our honorary consuls in Israel. We have lots of common interests, for instance, in innovation, hi-tech and start-up sectors. People-to-people relations are also vibrant. More and more Israeli tourists are visiting Finland. Next year we will celebrate 70 years of diplomatic relations between Finland and Israel.

The government of Finland takes very seriously the recent vandalism and attacks against the Embassy of Israel in Helsinki, Finland. The Finnish authorities respond to any suspected hate-crime or act of racism, including those with antisemitic motives, with utmost concern. Finland is committed to combating antisemitism as part of its fight against discrimination and racism, and in order to guarantee freedom of religion and opinion.

The Finnish government fully acknowledges its duties under international agreements to protect the safety of foreign missions in Finland. Finland does not tolerate any form of vandalism that targets foreign missions.

Police authorities in Helsinki, as well as the Ministry for Foreign Affairs have regular contact with the Embassy of Israel in Helsinki regarding security issues. Relevant Finnish authorities have taken actions in this respect. These actions include increasing police patrols to monitor the Israeli Embassy and the residence premises. The reported crimes and incidents are currently being investigated by the authorities.

Antisemitic crimes are relatively uncommon in Finland. Nevertheless, we share the concern on the increase of antisemitism in Europe and worldwide. The Finnish government has adopted the working definition of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) formulation on antisemitism. We implement and promote it nationally, within the European Union and internationally.

In our view, education has a key role in preventing racism, extremism and hate speech. The Finnish basic education and high-school curricula include these aspects as well as teaching about the Holocaust as a historical and human rights question.

There is close and active cooperation between the Finnish Ministry of the Interior, the police and the Jewish community in Finland to combat antisemitism and threats to the community. Government funding is allocated to improve and ensure the safety of the synagogue and the community center in Helsinki.

Confronting antisemitism, racism and xenophobia is a common endeavor, and Finland takes part in this cooperation. Finland has zero tolerance for racism and our government is committed to combating discrimination in all sectors of society. The promotion of human rights, the rule of law, democracy, peace, freedom, tolerance and equality also form the central element of the values on which Finland’s foreign and security policy rests.

The writer is ambassador of Finland to Israel.


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