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Finnish president upholds "opened channels" between EU, Russia

English.news.cn   2014-08-17 03:56:46

HELSINKI, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Finnish President Sauli Niinisto expressed optimism towards easing the Ukraine crisis but had no concrete breakthrough to announce when he returned to Helsinki late Saturday following talks with his Russian and Ukrainian counterparts.

He met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday in Sochi and Ukrainian President Petro Proshenko in Kiev on Saturday.

Niinisto said Finland continues to be committed to further the process to solve the conflict. He said that his optimism was based on the fact that channels for discussions had opened, and he would now make a series of phone calls to leaders within and outside the EU.

Niinisto denied at the press conference that the international position of Finland would have changed in any way.

"We are a country allied within the European Union," he underlined, but continued that "countries have neighbours they keep up relations with, irrespective of whether they are within the Union or outside it."

Niinisto said the president of Ukraine had appreciated the fact that the European Union had remained united.

Initial Finnish comments were cautious. Kristi Raik, a senior analyst at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs, said on Finnish National Radio that it was premature to say what the importance of the visit will be in the solution of the crisis.

"It does not seem to be a turning point now," she said. "The only concrete matter heard during the visit was the agreement on the way the Russian aid convoy should be treated," she noted.

The Finnish president said a ceasefire would be the first aim, but then also the positions of the Customs Union and the Associate Agreement between the EU and Ukraine should be reviewed.

He noted he could not, of course, divulge any details of the view expressed in the talks.

Timo Soikkanen, professor of political history at Turku University, told Xinhua that "the visit seemed to have served the interests of Finland and the attempts to split the EU had been averted."

"The action of Finland in the Ukraine issue must be seen in light of the fact that Finland would be among the worst to suffer if the situation would worsen and mutual sanctions tighten," said Soikkanen.

He took the importance of the Siberian air passage rights to the Finnish national carrier Finnair as an example.

The business based on the flights over Siberia to eastern Asia offers 40 percent of the total operating revenue of the airline, and the company has been worried about the Russian threat of closing the passage.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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