Relations between Finland and Estonia are stronger than ever, said Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo during his first working visit to Tallinn on Wednesday.
"The relationship between Finland and Estonia is stronger today than ever before, we have a broad personal relationship and friendship, Finland and Estonia have strong cultural ties, our values, and ideas are very similar and our ideas about the reality around us are also very similar," Orpo said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform).
He said the pair discussed the security situation in Europe, NATO, allies and Ukraine's membership, and energy issues.
"For the first time in Finland's history, we are members of a military alliance," he added."We will certainly also continue to increase security and prosperity across the Baltic Sea region."
The prime minister said Finland wants to deepen bilateral cooperation with Estonia to support Ukraine.
He also expressed his support for strengthening the European Union's competitiveness in the current geopolitical situation.
"We need to support more open market economies, because the stronger and more competitive the European Union is, the more influential the EU will be, both geopolitically and on environmental issues, or on the war in Ukraine," said Orpo.
Kallas: Timing of visit should not be overemphasized
Orpo's new government took office on June 20 and, besides the European Council, his visit to Tallinn was the first of his premiership.
Kallas said she was happy the Finnish prime minister is visiting Estonia but far-reaching conclusions should not be drawn from Orpo's visit to Tallinn rather than the Swedish capital, Stockholm, as tradition usually dictates.
"It means a lot to us that Finland looks south in the same way it looks north. Of course, we are glad that the Finnish Prime Minister is here before he is in Sweden, but that is not worth reading anything into it. Of course, the two trips cannot fit into one day," she said.
Kallas said the pair agree on goals for NATO's summit in Vilnius next week, such as strengthening regional defense plans, pushing member states to allocate at least 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending, and setting concrete steps for Ukraine's NATO membership.
The Estonian prime minister said the latest signs that Sweden will join the alliance at the summit are not looking promising.
The construction of Estlink 3 and constructing an undersea tunnel between Tallinn and Helsinki were also discussed she said, but added the latter is a long way off.
Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright