Prime Minister Lipponen: Hostages should not be put in jeopardy
Finland is confident that the government of the Philippines endeavours to solve the hostage crisis in a way that does not put the safety of the hostages in jeopardy. This message was sent by Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen to President Joseph Estrada of the Philippines on Tuesday after information had been arriving from the area about a shoot-out between soldiers of the Philippine army and guerillas holding hostages.
Finland is also sending a special representative to the Philippines to help in solving the hostage crisis. Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja decided on Tuesday to send the Director General of the Legal Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Mr Holger Rotkirch, to the Philippines, assisted by Ms Leena Liira, attaché from the Finnish Embassy in Singapore.
The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs kept close contact Tuesday with other governments, whose citizens are held as hostages by the guerilla group on Jolo island. There is consensus on the need to avoid such means of solving the crisis that might put the life of the hostages in jeopardy.
The Director General of the Political Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Mr Pertti Torstila emphasizes that sending a special representative to the Philippines does not mean an internationalization of the hostage crisis. The government of the Philippines remains primarily responsible for seeking a solution to it. By sending a special representative, Finland wants to support the government of the Philippines in its efforts to solve the crisis by the way of negotiations.