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Finland, Estonia not ruling out new sanctions against Russia

Newly-appointed Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and her Finnish host, President Sauli Niinistö said that they won’t rule out the possibility of new sanctions against Russia over its role in Syria. The pair met in Helsinki Thursday during Kaljulaid’s first official trip abroad as her country’s head of state.

Viron presidentti Kersti Kaljulaid ja presidentti Sauli Niinistö.
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and Finnish President Sauli Niinistö met officially for the first time on Thursday, October 20. Image: Jouni Immonen / Yle

Following his first official meeting with his new Estonian counterpart Kersti Kaljulaid on Thursday, Sauli Niinistö declared that Estonia and Finland share similar views on Russia although their actions might differ.

Asked about the possibility of imposing additional sanctions against Russia over its role in Syria, Niinistö said that he would not rule it out.

He said that in the current situation there are glimmers of hope following several negotiation rounds and a new ceasefire declared by Moscow – although the truce might primarily be a propaganda tool, Niinistö noted.

For her part, Kaljulaid highlighted the massive scale of the humanitarian disaster in Syria. She said that although both Finland and Estonia had suffered and continued to suffer economically from the sanctions regime, it is important to remember that human lives are at stake at the other end of the scale.

Niinistö stressed that Finland makes use of dialogue as well as pressure in its relations with Russia. Kaljulaid pointed out that neither country necessarily needed to adopt the same approach to Russia.

However she said that both countries have exactly the same view of the situation and also share the same goals. She added that both Finland and Estonia are bound by their commitment to EU policy.

Helsinki – Tallinn tunnel no fantasy

The new Estonian president stated that relations between her country and Finland were becoming more balanced. She pointed to Estonia’s rapid strides to become one of Europe’s leading e-economies and said that the area could become a major selling point for both countries.

Journalists also asked about a possible tunnel connecting the countries’ capitals. Kaljulaid responded that she did not view the idea as fanciful.

She pointed out that 20 years ago no one could have imagined the volume of marine traffic that would be traversing the Gulf of Finland today.

The presidents described relations between their countries as clear as an autumn day, and Kaljulaid revealed that Niinistö was the only head of state to have called her following her appointment as president.

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