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Premier worried by EU's strained ties with Russia

Addressing a Wednesday-afternoon parliamentary session focusing on the situation in Ukraine, Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen cited last week’s break-off of visa and trade talks between Brussels and Moscow.

Jyrki Katainen.
A sombre Jyrki Katainen spoke in Parliament on Wednesday. Image: Yle

Finnish Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen has expressed his concern over the state of EU-Russian relations.

Addressing a Wednesday-afternoon parliamentary session focusing on the situation in Ukraine, the premier cited last week’s break-off of visa and trade talks between Brussels and Moscow.

Katainen says Finland is strongly emphasising the importance of negotiations to resolve the Crimean crisis. He pointed out that sanctions and counter-sanctions cause losses for both sides in a dispute.

“However the EU cannot fail to respond to moves that exacerbate the situation and violate international law,” Katainen said.

The PM stressed that supporting Russia in its international cooperation is one of the basic principles of Finland’s policy toward its eastern neighbour.

“Our goal has been – and remains – a natural European neighbouring relationship, which benefits Finland, the EU as a whole and Russia,” Katainen told MPs.

Finland has not backed economic sanctions against Russia, where many of its companies have significant investments -- as Russian firms do in this country.

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