The President of the Russian Federation and Mrs Putin on State Visit to Finland

The President of the Russian Federation and Mrs Putin on State Visit to Finland

The official welcoming ceremony of the state visit of President and Mrs Putin took place in the forecourt of the Presidential Palace on Monday morning, September 3, after which President Halonen and President Putin held official talks in the Palace. At that time, Mrs Putin visits the library of the University of Helsinki together with Mr Arajärvi.

The two Presidents gave a joint press conference at Finlandia Hall at noon. President Tarja Halonen told that the main topics of the discussions were the bilateral neighbour relations between Finland and Russia, cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, as well as the enlargement of the European Union, the developing of European security architecture and current international issues, such as disarmament and environmental protection.

New border crossings will be opened and rapid train connections are being planned

President Putin said that Russia appreciates the confidential athmosphere of Finnish-Russian relations. His delegation includes several ministers, who have held talks with their Finnish colleagues on the practical promotion of cooperation between the two countries. According to Putin, the most important goal in the field of trade and investments is to create a juridical foundation for entrepreneurship. He also told that a high level conference on forestry is to be held in March next year. New border crossings will be opened before the end of this year in Svetogorsk and Salla, and transport connections between Joensuu and Petroskoi are being developed. Rapid train connections from Helsinki to St Petersburg and from Helsinki to Moscow are also being planned. President Putin said that the friendly attitude of Finns toward Russian immigrants set a good example.

In international questions the views of both countries are close to each other and both emphasize the key role of the Organisation for European Security and Cooperation and the United Nations. According to Putin, the non-alllied status of Finland strengthens security in the Baltic Sea region, and Finland´s membership in the European Union opens up new opportunities especially in the fields of economy and trade. Finland and Russia can be proud of their cooperation and achievements during the past ten years.

European integration promotes human rights

When answering questions by journalists President Tarja Halonen said that Finland sees the Baltic countries entering the NATO one day. In her view this does not change Finland´s security situation. She pointed out the need for cooperation and constructive approach.According to Halonen,Finland is also prepared for its part to contribute to the development of friendly relations between Russia and the Baltic countries, respecting each country´s independence. The European integration improves the fulfilment of common European values in all countries, including people´s rights.

President Putin assured that Russia does not impose a threat on any of its neighbouring countries. A possible membership in NATO is the choice of Baltic countries, but Putin did not see any objective reasons for NATO enlargement. According to him Russia does not try to use pressure against the Baltic countries, but he expected that the Russian speaking minorities are treated according to all-European humanitarian principles.

Agreements on promoting entrepreneurship and health cooperation.

Two agreements were signed at the Presidential Palace after the official talks. Minister for trade and industry Sinikka Mönkäre and the Russian minister for antimonopoly policy and support for entrepreneurship Ilja Yuzhanov signed an agreement aimed at promoting entrepreneurship. The Russian authorities are interested in exchanging know-how and experiences with Finland especially in the field of encouraging SMEs. This gives even Finland an opportunity to follow the development of Russian industrial policies and legislation.

Minister for social affairs and health Maija Perho and the Russian minister for health Yuri Chevchenko signed a programme of cooperation in the field of health care for the years 2001-2004. The main targets are, among other things, prevention of communicable diseases and health care of mothers and children. The programme includes projects in the neighbouring regions to Finland and change of experts. It also supports the work of international organisations, such as UNAIDS and WHO.

Prime Minister Lipponen and President Putin discussed economy and Northern Dimension

In the afternoon President Putin laid wreaths at the Heroes´ Cross and at the tombs of Marshal C.G.E. Mannerheim and President Urho Kekkonen in Hietaniemi Cemetery. President Putin then had a meeting over lunch with Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen at the Government Banquet Hall. They discussed primarily the development of economic cooperation between Finland and Russia,as well as between the European Union and Russia, including the implementation of the EU Programme on the Northern Dimension.

Later in the afternoon, President Putin visited Parliament under the guidance of the Speaker of the House, Mrs Riitta Uosukainen, and then went on to the Kalastajatorppa Hotel to meet leaders of Finnish business and industry. In the evening, President Halonen and Mr Arajärvi, the husband of President Halonen host a State Banquet in honour of President and Mrs Putin. The Russian presidential couple depart for Moscow later in the evening.

Among President Putin’s entourage are foreign minister Igor Ivanov, minister for economic development and trade German Gref, minister of health Yuri Shevchenko, minister for anti-monopoly policy and enterprise support Ilya Juzhanov, the President’s representative for North- Western Russia Viktor Cherkesov, chairman of the government of the Republic of Karelia Sergei Katanandov, governor of the Leningrad region Valeri Serdyukov, governor of Saint Petersburg Vladimir Yakovlev, head of the Russian border guard Konstantin Totski and deputy minister of transport Vladimir Yakunin. During the visit they met their Finnish opposite numbers.

Further information:
Special adviser to the President Jarmo Viinanen and Head of Press Relations Maria Romantschuk, President´s Office, tel 661 133 and Deputy Director Matti Anttonen, tel. 1341 5547 and counsellor Raino Hassinen, tel. 1341 5098, Ministry for Foreign Affairs Information on media arrangements: Juha Vänskä, tel. 1341 5834.

President Halonen’s and President Putin’s joint press conference can be heard in English on Real Audio recording.