Finnish foreign minister sacked over SMS scandal

April 1st, 2008 - 11:44 pm ICT by admin  

Helsinki, April 1 (DPA) Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva was forced Tuesday to quit his job for degrading the dignity of office by sending scores of text messages to a model, who also works as an exotic dancer. The conservative National Coalition Party appointed Alexander Stubb, the country’s European Parliament member, as his successor after consultation with Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen and President Tarja Halonen.

Stubb, who turned 40 Tuesday, said his immediate focus would be on the Finnish presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE0).

Earlier, party leader Jyrkki Katainen told the online edition of Verkkouutiset that Kanerva could no longer remain in office over the affair and that the decision was “very difficult”.

Katainen’s remarks were made shortly before the latest issue of gossip magazine Hymy hit the stands with 200 text messages Kanerva reportedly sent to model Johanna Tukiainen.

One of the published text messages allegedly sent at 1 a.m. Feb 20 said: “I can only speak for myself. What would feel good?” according to Hymy.

In another, Kanerva expressed interest in also meeting Tukianen’s sister.

Late Monday, Kanerva said he had no plans to step down.

Kanerva, 60, reported sick Tuesday and cancelled his scheduled attendance at a two-day NATO summit in Romania this week, the foreign ministry said.

The veteran politician failed last week to get a court injunction to stop the publication of the text messages.

In 2005, Kanerva, then deputy speaker of parliament, was at the centre of a similar row for sending text messages to younger women but defused the matter by apologizing on national television.

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