MP's Cuba attack fails
Søren Pind attacked the new foreign minister for his comment on Cuba but faced a wave of backlash
The same week that Barack Obama's political rivals feigned outrage after the US president shook hands with Cuban president Raul Castro, the communist island was the focus of a furore involving the new Danish foreign minister.
Holger K. Nielsen (SF) took over as foreign minister this week from Villy Søvndal (SF) and the two exchanged gifts yesterday in a traditional ceremony in front of reporters.
Nielsen's gift to Søvndal was a hammock and the album 'Buena Vista Social Club' performed by Cuban musicians.
“So if you don’t have time to go to Cuba, you can lie in the hammock between two trees and listen to the CD and dream of Cuban beaches and the Cuban paradise,” Nielsen told Søvndal.
But Cuba is no paradise, according to Venstre’s foreign spokesperson Søren Pind.
Writing on Facebook, Pind said that right-wing parties Venstre, Konservative and Dansk Folkeparti had immediately called Nielsen into a parliamentary consultation over his remark.
“The statement is so offensive that it cannot be allowed to stand,” Pind wrote. “Denmark’s new foreign minister is talking about a dictatorial paradise. It is simply unacceptable.”
Ahhhh, paradise (Photo: Colourbox)
Far from gathering momentum against the new minister though, Pind was swiftly criticised by both government and opposition MPs and ultimately cancelled his call for a consultation.
“Søren Pind's reaction is as pathetic as Holger’s statement was stupid,” Enhedslisten MP Per Clausen wrote on Twitter.
Mogens Jensen (S) agreed that Pind had grabbed the wrong end of the stick.
“It’s obvious to everyone that Holger K is referring to Cuba’s natural beauty, not Cuba’s regime,” he stated on Twitter.
Abandoned by peers
Venstre MEP Jens Rohde also thought Pind was wasting time by getting Nielsen to explain himself.
“It wasn’t a speech to parliament – Nielsen was speaking to an old friend,” Rohde told Berlingske newspaper. “I would prefer that we had a foreign minister who was given the opportunity to get out into the field instead of wasting his time explaining what he meant by ‘paradise’.”
Pind was also quickly abandoned by Konservative. The party's foreign spokesperson – and a former foreign minister – Lene Espersen said that while Nielsen’s statement was “embarrassing”, her party had never agreed to call the consultation.
“We agree with Venstre that new foreign minister Holger K Nielsen needs to be criticised for naming a dictatorship in his acceptance speech [but] we are not on board with calling for a parliamentary consultation,” Espersen told TV2 News.
The backlash ultimately proved enough for Pind to backtrack.
"It has been put to rest after Holger K Nielsen explained that his words iwere said in a relaxed atmosphere," Pind told TV2 News.
NOTE: This story was updated after Søren Pind backtracked and called of the consultation