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Lipponen backed down

Den finske statsministeren Paavo Lipponen møtte Bellonas Frederic Hauge utenfor Stortinget i ettermiddag. Lipponen trakk tilbake terroristanklagene mot Bellona.
Siri Engesaeth

Publish date: March 20, 2001

Written by: Dag Hotvedt

In a meeting between the president of the Bellona Foundation Mr. Frederic Hauge and the Finnish Prime Minister Mr. Paavo Lipponen who is on official visit to Norway, Mr Lipponen apologized to Mr. Hauge for his statements to Norwegian press Sunday. The Finnish Prime Minister has accused The Bellona Foundation of terrorism, destruction of private property, and invasion of Finland. The accusations were made in an interview with the Norwegian daily newspaper "Aftenposten".

Earlier, Mr. Lipponen stated that he had no intention to apologize himself to Bellona for these accusations, but during the meeting outside the Norwegian Parliament where he had met with representatives of the parliament’s foreign affairs and energy committees, Mr Lipponen said that he had now "checked his dictionary", and found that "terrorism" was a too strong and erroneous expression to use about the kind of important public work carried out by the Bellona Foundation.

During the meeting, Frederic Hauge stated that Bellona always emphasizes carrying out their actions in a peaceful way, and that whatever they might be, Bellona always takes the consequences of its activities.

He explained to Mr. Lipponen that Bellona’s strong reaction to his statement had been amplified by the fact that the organisation only recently had cleared itself from similar accusations put forward by Russian authorities, and that such a statement made by the Finnish Prime Minister now was very unfortunate and in particular damaging to Bellona’s further work in Russia. Hauge handed over to Mr. Lipponen the Bellona report on sources to radioactive contamination from the Russian Northern Fleet, and a report containing suggestions for better energy solutions.

Paavo Lipponen thanked Mr. Hauge, and said that he now better understands what Bellona is doing, and that he never had meant to call Bellona a terrorist organization

"I am aware that The Bellona Foundation is a generally recognized and important organization, and after having checked my dictionary I see that using the term "terrorists" about Bellona activists is absolutely too strong", Mr. Lipponen said.

"I have the greatest respect for anyone who can admit to a mistake, and I regard this matter as ended", says Frederic Hauge to Bellona Web.

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