Russia-Finland Relations Are Exemplary -- Estonia's President

Russia-Finland relations can provide an example for Estonia in cooperation with Russia, said Estonian President Arnold Ruitel at a press conference in Helsinki. "We must follow the example of Finland, which has gone a long way in building goodneighbourly relations with Russia", said Ruitel, admitting that there "still are many flaws" in the Estonian-Russian relations. The Estonian president stressed the need of deepening cooperation with Russia above all in interstate relations. As regards the position of the Russian-speaking population of Estonia, Ruitel voiced the opinion that the Estonian laws on the status of non-indigenous ethnic groups are much more liberal than in some other countries which used to be part of the USSR. The Estonian president noted that the outflow of Russians from Estonia is much less than from other former republics of the Soviet Union. To him, "here Russians live and feel at home". The recently elected president of Estonia, Arnold Ruitel, who was in Finland on his first official visit, held negotiations on Tuesday with Finnish President Tarja Halonen. They discussed, among other things, matters of expansion of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Although Estonia is a candidate member of both the international organisations, Ruitel stressed that it would be more "natural" first to join the former.

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