June 2, 2023


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Finland's president warns against naivety in his relationship with Russia

Finland’s president warns against naivety in his relationship with Russia

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö uses an old Finnish proverb to describe the relationship with his great neighbor to the East. He finds it hard to imagine what the future will be like.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in conversation with Nupi Director Ulf Sverdrup and Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö on Monday began his official visit to Norway. It began with a speech at the Norwegian Foreign Policy Institute with Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store.

At the same time, missiles rained down on Ukrainian cities. The war marked modern Oslo.

When Niinisto gave a similar speech to Nupi ten years ago, the world was different. In 2012, Niinistö spoke about the fact that both Norway and Finland It has good cooperation with its neighbor in the east. Traffic between Russia and Finland will set new records.

Now Finland has closed the border to Russian tourists. The country, led by Niinisto, applied for NATO membership. The president is having a hard time envisioning what his relationship with Russia will be like in the future.

– She wasn’t naive

– I think we share a common approach to Russia. Finland has never been so naive about this. Nor are you. We have tried to maintain practical relations with Russia as much as possible. But I always repeated the old Finnish wisdom: the Cossacks take whatever is loose, as Niinistö said at the House of Literature in Oslo.

I mentioned the proverb Several times in the past. He made it clear that this means that you should have a clear line towards Russia and that Finland is in control of its affairs.

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Talk regularly with Putin

Today, all interrelations seem very far away. But we have to fix everything that is “fixed”. At the same time, we must remember that Russia will not disappear, but will remain our neighbor. Finland cannot ignore it. Niinisto said NATO membership would not change that. He believes that Norway and Finland can learn from each other’s experiences.

Niinisto is one of the few Western leaders who have been in regular contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He had that too last year. In May at the latest, when he called to say Finland was applying for NATO membership.

– Niinistö said that his reaction was more calm, he tried to calm things down, perhaps so as not to cause unrest or debate in Russia.

Niinistö said Finland “never lowered the fence”. They maintained a great defense even as other nations reduced their troop numbers to a minimum after the Cold War.

Our defense is in good shape. NATO membership does not mean we can neglect it. exactly the contrary.

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Silent but strong

Niinistö spoke warmly of what he called the Scandinavian “brand”. He believed that the fact that Sweden and Finland were now moving towards NATO membership would lead to more Scandinavian cooperation in the military alliance. And that the Nordic countries would often agree. At the same time, he says they will not become a northern regional “bloc” in NATO.

He said Finland’s basic thinking regarding security would also remain as a NATO member.

We don’t want to increase the tension. But we are also prepared for more difficult circumstances. We tend not to make the loudest of statements. But instead, our calm but powerful actions made the difference, he said.

Waiting for the green light

Both Stoer and Niinisto were asked about the energy crisis in Europe and its risks. Niinisto himself said that as a “normal person” he understands that many people do not understand how energy prices can change so much from day to day.

He also warned of the difficult winter. He said resilience will be tested in the coming months. What happened with gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea is a reminder of how the crisis has escalated, Niinisto said.

– Standing together should be our answer. I am convinced that we will pass this test. But standing together and showing resilience will require a sustained effort from each of us. We must be prepared for difficult choices. We have to take them by standing together, said Niinisto.

There are two countries that have not yet agreed to Finland and Sweden’s request to NATO: Hungary and Turkey. Niinisto said they have had constructive talks with both countries and are convinced they will also give the green light “when the time is right”.

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