President Sauli Niinistö held a press conference after sitting down with Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, at his summer residence in Naantali. The undeniably strained EU-Russia relations have yet to have a concrete effect on the bilateral relations between Finland and Russia, President Sauli Niinistö summarised on Tuesday after meeting Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, at his summer residence in Naantali.

“President [Vladimir] Putin has stated rather clearly that he appreciates the position of Finland as a decision-maker in the EU and a supporter of those decisions,” Niinistö highlighted.

Niinistö said that he, in turn, appreciates the discontent of Russia with the compliance of Finland with the sanctions introduced by the European Union. “I'm sure it's a question of the ministerial-level meetings that were not held. In this respect, we adhere to the decisions we've taken in the EU.”

Niinistö and Lavrov met on Tuesday particularly in order to discuss the situation in Ukraine.

“I wanted to discuss two themes: The theme of how Russia sees the possibilities to resolve the acute crisis and how Russia could contribute toward the resolution. The other theme was the basic relationship between the EU and Russia and how we could get it back on track,” Niinistö revealed in a press conference after the meeting.

According to Niinistö, Lavrov affirmed that Russia will respect the outcome of the presidential elections in Ukraine. “They feel that they've done all they can and are now waiting for President [Petro] Poroshenko to propose a truce and compliant measures.”

In addition, Niinistö told that he had emphasised that Russia should do more than what it considers its outright responsibility to mitigate the tensions in Ukraine.

Niinistö also pointed out that the strained relations between Russia and the European Union have prevented the regions from seeking joint measures to spur their waning economic growth rates. “For years, we've in relative unison sought to ensure that the relationship between the EU and Russia is functional. That would benefit both the EU and Russia, but the greatest beneficiary would be Finland. Naturally, we'll continue in the same direction.”

Anna-Liina Kauhanen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva