Russian Foreign Minister Meets In Helsinki With His Finnish Counterpart And Finnish President

Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov has arrived in Helsinki, the capital of Finland from the city of Joensuu located in the north-east of the country. In his flight the Russian foreign minister was accompanied by Finnish foreign minister Erkki Tuomioja. In Joensuu Igor Ivanov met with representatives of local authorities, and also held negotiations in an informal atmosphere with the Finnish foreign minister. On Friday he will meet with President of Finland Tarja Halonen, and also hold official negotiations with the head of the Finnish Foreign Ministry. As the sources in the Russian Foreign ministry say, the ministers and the President will discuss interaction between Russia and the EU. It is known that today Finland is the sole EU state, which has a common border with Russia. That is why, the relations between Moscow and Helsinki reflect a whole spectrum of Russia-EU interaction. Apart from that, according to the sources, Finland acts from "patronage" positions in relation to the Baltic countries. And, undoubtedly, in the course of the forthcoming negotiations, the sides will also touch upon the issue of the expansion of the European Union and the NATO. Apart from that, the ministers will discuss the issue of regional cooperation and Finland's participation in the development of the border infrastructure. This theme was touched upon by the ministers in the course of the negotiations held the other day in an informal atmosphere in the Finnish city of Joensuu. During these negotiations the ministers stressed that there were possibilities and the desire for cooperation between Finnish and Russian regions. That is why, it is necessary to do everything, including at the highest level, to provide opportunities for this process. In particular, today there are about 100 joint projects being implemented in adjacent regions and financed partially by the Finish side, partially by local and regional administrations, and partially by the European Union. As director-general of the political department of the Finnish Foreign Ministry and former ambassador of Finland to Russia Markus Ljura said in an interview with RIA Novosti, the ministers will touch upon the issues of strategic stability and security and discuss plans of the USA for deploying a national missile defence system. As Ljura noted, it is an encouraging fact for Helsinki that Washington does not have an intention to unilaterally withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty since this would mean a new arms race. The ministers will also discuss international issues - EU expansion, issues relating to NATO activity, peace-keeping activity of the European Union - a new system of crisis response that is being built. Apart from that, according to Ljura, at a meeting of the Russian foreign minister with Finish minister Tarja Halonen the sides will apparently discuss the forthcoming visit by President of Russia Vladimir Putin to Finland. Ljura pointed out that Helsinki expects this year the visit by the Russian President and the visit by the Russian Prime Minister. Ljura said that the sides are also interested in the situation concerning Kaliningrad (a Russian enclave in the west), and this issue will also be raised at the negotiations. (fed/lio)

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