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New Finnish president: Estonia's matters are also our business

New Finnish president-elect Alexander Stubb,
New Finnish president-elect Alexander Stubb, Source: SCANPIX / Antti Aimo-Koivisto / LEHTI / SIPA

Cooperation with Estonia is highly important to Finland, that country's new president-elect, Alexander Stubb says. Those matters affecting Estonia also in turn affect Finland, he adds, referring primarily to defense and security.

"Estonia's business is our business too; we are close allies in NATO and cooperation with Estonia is very important to us," Stubb said, following his election.

He takes office as president on March 1, after incumbent Sauli Niinistö's second, six-year term ends. Finland's presidents play an important role in foreign and defense policy.

Speaking to ETV foreign affairs show "Välisilm" Tuesday, Iro Särkkä, a defense and security expert at Finland's foreign policy institute, said: "Cooperation with Estonia is becoming increasingly intense."

"We (ie. Finland – ed.) are now members of a defensive organization, while the president-elect will certainly stress, in addition to Nordic cooperation, the key connection with Estonia and the Baltic states," she continued.

"We share the Gulf of Finland. It is vital for Finland that defense matters are handled well in Estonia, too, so Finland can intensify its defense cooperation, predicted," Särkkä added.

Stubb has pledged to base his activities on both values ​​and realistic politics all at the same time, while at the same time, Finland will prove reliable, including in the defense field, Stubb himself has said since winning Sunday's election.

Stubb said: "You can always trust a Finn's handshake. It is without a doubt clear that we have one of the strongest defensive capabilities in Europe at the moment."

Iro Särkkä noted that on the campaign trail, Stubb repeatedly highlighted the importance of US-Finland relations, in addition to focusing on defense, including a "triple lock" policy of domestic defense, NATO and EU-level defense, and a bilateral agreement with Washington.

Iro Särkkä. Source: ERR

Even more broadly, post-Cold War idealism is over as an era as, to an extent, is the "globalist" era, leaving new political realities, Stubb has also said, realities Finland has to adapt to.

Särkkä also noted Stubb's resume, which includes a stint as prime minister, albeit just for a year (Stubb replaced Jyrki Katainen who had stepped down in 2014), various ministerial portfolios including foreign and finance, and more recently his time as deputy chair of the European Investment Bank (EIB).

Stubb has in this way cultivated a network for himself in Europe, while his legal academic background has enabled him to comment on Finland's foreign and defense political situation Särkkä said.

Also noteworthy has been the election of a liberal internationalist at a time when populism and right-wing politics have been on the ascendancy again in parts of Europe and the U.S.

Stubb has stressed core Nordic and Western values, enumerating these as the rule of law, a commitment to democracy and to fundamental human rights, while realism will underpin decisions on major global issues such as climate change, tech development, pandemics, and demographics.

"On these, we also have to cooperate with those countries whose values ​​we do not share," Stubb has said.

Stubb won Sunday's Finnish presidential election second round run-off by a narrow margin, 51.6 percent against Pekka Haavisto's 48.4 percent.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

Source: 'Välissilm,' reporter Arni Alandi.

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