Finnish Foreign Minister calls for reopening talks with Hamas

 Finland which holds the current European Union Presidency is to urge EU foreign ministers Friday to renew contacts with the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

EU foreign ministers begin a 2-day informal meeting in Lappeenranta, Finland, Friday.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja, who is chairing the talks in Lappeenranta, said discussions with all key Middle East players were vital to promote peace in the region.

“For peace to be negotiated, we have to be ready to talk with everybody and anyone who is relevant,” Tuomioja underlined in a clear reference to Hamas.

“Hamas is not the same party as it was before the elections,” he told the German edition of the European daily Financial Times.

Despite the innovative EU blueprint, the bloc’s ministers were at pains to ease US and Israeli concerns that the move represented any softening of European demands.

“We are not changing our policy vis-a-vis Hamas,” insisted Tuomioja. Rather the focus was on putting pressure on Hamas to change its stance and accept these conditions, he said.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bernard Bot also stressed there was no shift in the EU’s stance on Hamas while noting that an Abbas-brokered national unity government could change Hamas policy.