Rõivas: Relations between Finland and Estonia exceptionally close (1)
At his meeting with visiting Finnish president Sauli Niinistö in Tallinn on Tuesday, Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas (Reform) said that relations between Estonia and Finland were exceptionally close and that the countries were working closely together in a number of areas.
Rõivas and Niinistö discussed bilateral relations, cooperation in information and communication technology, energy projects, security issues of the Baltic Sea region, and the situation in Ukraine.
They also discussed cultural cooperation related to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Finland and Estonia in 2018.
Speaking about security, Roivas emphasized that a strong and united common foreign and security policy of the EU and a decisive NATO are in the interest of Estonia. As regards the conflict in Ukraine, the prime minister said that the sanctions had to continue as long as the Minsk agreements were not met.
He added that the alliance needed to strengthen its deterrent in response to Russia’s military sabre-rattling. Rõivas also expressed the wish to intensify security cooperation between the Nordic and Baltic countries.
“NATO membership is a domestic issue that the people of Finland will decide about. At the same time, let me assure you that there's not the slightest doubt - Estonia is always ready to help Finland, for better or worse," Rõivas said. He added that Estonia would make no concessions when it comes to the region's security. If the situation required it, it would come to Finland’s aid.
Other topics discussed at the meeting included energy and infrastructure projects. The prime minister said he was glad that Estonia and Finland had submitted the application for funding from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to build the Baltic Connector underwater gas pipeline, and added that it was important to have completed it by the end of 2019.
The prime ministers of Estonia and Finland signed a joint declaration in Helsinki last week, complete with a roadmap to bring cooperation between the countries in the digital field to a new level.
Rõivas told Niinistö on Tuesday that getting cross-border national e-services off the ground had great potential to improve cooperation between Estonian and Finnish businesses, which would not only make a contribution to the economic growth of both countries, but also make them front runners in Europe and the world in this field.