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Speeches, 5/4/2017

Foreign minister Soini's opening address in a press conference in Haikko

Foreign minister Soini's opening address in a press conference in Haikko on 4 May 2017.

Dear colleague, ladies and gentlemen,

  • Today I have had the pleasure of welcoming my colleague, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, to springtime Haikko and the century-old Finland. Thank you for the open and constructive discussions! It has been nearly a year since we last met in Moscow.
  • We met again on good terms, although there were also difficult topics on the agenda, such as the situation in Ukraine, Syria and the Korean peninsula. We also discussed the bilateral relations as well as issues concerning regional cooperation.
  • There have been positive developments in trade and mobility between Russia and Finland. The volume of trade has grown, and the expectations of Finnish companies are again a little brighter. The number of visa applications and border-crossings has started to increase after a long period of decline. Russians are very welcome to visit our country.
  • Next week Finland will assume its two-year Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from the United States. The Arctic Council is the most important international cooperation forum in the Arctic Region, and Russia is one of its key actors. We agreed that cooperation and development in the Arctic Region are important.
  • We also discussed the relations between Russia and the EU. As a member of the EU, Finland implements the Union’s common foreign policy. The topic of human rights came up, as it did when Federica Mogherini visited Moscow some weeks ago. Finland considers these issues very important. 
  • The conflict in Ukraine continues to be a key barrier for normalising the relations between Russia and the EU. Unfortunately the implementation of the Minsk agreement has not progressed as planned. Without a permanent ceasefire it will be very difficult or even impossible to achieve progress in other issues. I appealed to Foreign Minister Lavrov and urged Russia to use its influence on this matter. We agreed that there is a need for a comprehensive and impartial OSCE investigation on the death of an observer in Luhansk region. It was a very unfortunate incident.
  • We also discussed other topical international questions. We both find the increase of tension in the Korean peninsula highly alarming.
  • The situation in Syria continues to be challenging. The ceasefire has not held. The humanitarian situation is difficult.
  • Thank you again Foreign Minister Lavrov – Sergei – for our discussions today.
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