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Niinistö, Putin meet in Helsinki

Finland, Russia express concern over US missile test

22 Aug 2019, 01:16 ( 1 Month ago) | updated: 22 Aug 2019, 01:35 ( 1 Month ago)

DF Report
President Sauli Niinistö and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference after meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday. Photo President office by Roni Rekomaa.

President Sauli Niinistö and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin on Wednesday expressed concern over the missile test done by USA  after withdrawal from a decades-old arms control treaty.

Terming the US plan to locate mid-range missiles in Europe as "worrying", Niinistö called for dialogue on the matter.

Speaking at a joint press conference after a meeting of the presidents of the neighbouring countries in Helsinki, Niinistö said that the situation was not governed by any agreements, something that was especially troubling from the European perspective.

The land-based intermediate range missiles, formally known as Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles, came up as a hot topic at the press conference.

Putin expressed the Russian disappointment with the U.S. test of a land-based intermediate range missile only some days after the termination of the ban.

Niinistö said the situation without an agreement on intermediate range missiles is problematic for Europe, and new talks should be possible.

The Russian president arrived in Helsinki on Wednesday on an official trip.

The meeting of the presidents was rescheduled since the plane of Putin delayed by two hours than had been planned, reported a Finnish language daily Helsingin Sanomat.

From the airport, the Russian leader motorcade then proceeded to the Presidential Palace where official discussions took place.

According to the leaders of the two countries, there are no problems with respect to the bilateral relations of the two neighbouring countries.

As expected, two presidents also discussed economic, environment and waste management issues.

Russia's waste management is in a catastrophic state, with over 90% of its waste going to landfills, compared with just a couple of percent in Finland. Finland has said it can help in this regard, which in practice means selling technology in the field.

Putin also responded to a question from a Finnish journalist on the summer protests in Moscow. The Russian leader defended the actions of the Russian authorities in dismantling Moscow protests.

According to Putin, opposition protests that began in Moscow in the summer are "by no means exceptional at the global level, nor are they in Europe." According to him, demonstrations in Europe are often even more violent.

"We are closely monitoring such events in many European capitals," Putin said.

News agency Xinhua adds: Putin said that Russia would like to see its relations with the European Union (EU) to "return to a fully-fledged basis".

Putin said Russia hopes the new leadership of the EU would show a constructive approach to relations with Russia.

He said Russia appreciated the efforts by Finland towards making it possible that Russian delegation would be able to attend the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly without any restrictions.

Niinistö acknowledged the Finnish efforts and said Finland considers it important that Russia participates in the Council of Europe.

Putin confirmed that Russia aims at offering an electronic visa for Europeans visiting St. Petersburg area without a charge. The system is to begin in October.

Regarding Ukraine, Niinistö said he understands "something practical is being done". Niinistö said he will be visiting Ukraine in September and said he can support the ongoing efforts.

GAS PIPELINE

Putin thanked Finland for "pragmatic approach" to the gas pipeline Nord Stream Two. He said the installation work within the Finnish economic zone in the Baltic Sea has been completed already.

Niinistö noted that both Finland and Sweden have viewed the new gas pipe line as an environmental and legal issue only. Nord Stream Two and the already existing Nord Stream One carry Russian natural gas to continental Europe. It has no delivery role into Finland.

Putin discussed at length the European gas market. He said the U.S. is trying to convince Europeans to use American LNG, adding that it is more expensive and in the end the price would be subsidized by European governments. Putin said he is convinced that the Nord Stream Two will be completed.