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Joint press conference with the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö

1 Joint press conference with the President of Finland Sauli Niinistö
2 After the end of the Russian-Finnish talks, Vladimir Putin and Sauli Niinistö gave a joint press conference.
3 August 22, 2018 16: 50Sochi
4 Vladimir Putin: Mr President, Ladies and Gentlemen!
5 We have just concluded our talks with the President of Finland. They passed in a constructive atmosphere.
6 Quite recently, in mid-July, we met with Mr. Niinistö in Helsinki and today continued the discussion of topical issues on the bilateral and international agenda.
7 Russian-Finnish relations have traditionally been good-neighborly and mutually beneficial. First of all, it concerns trade and economic relations. By the end of 2017 bilateral trade increased by 37 percent and reached almost 12.5 billion dollars, and in the first half of this year it increased by another 27 percent.
8 Business contacts with Russian partners are supported by more than 7,000 enterprises in Finland. The total amount of direct accumulated investment in Finland in the Russian economy is 4.4 billion dollars. If we take into account the subsidiary Finnish organizations in third countries, then it will already be 14 billion. Russian companies invested 3.4 billion dollars in the economy of Finland.
9 We discussed various areas of our cooperation in the field of economy. We talked about issues that interests citizens of Finland and Russia, and they are really interested, in the most direct sense of the word, because they affect all our citizens, referring to environmental measures and our joint actions to protect the environment.
10 Let me remind you that the Finnish side is participating in the rehabilitation program for the Krasny Bor hazardous waste site near St. Petersburg. We will continue to expand our cooperation with Finland in the environmental sphere. Tourist exchanges are also growing. In 2017, growth was 15 percent.
11 They discussed international issues. I once again thanked my Finnish colleague for organizing the Russian-American summit in Helsinki. There was expressed mutual interest in cooperation to strengthen stability and security in the north of Europe. Russia supports the proposal of the President of Finland to improve the safety of flights over the Baltic.
12 We touched upon the settlement in Syria, in the southeast of Ukraine, but we will still have the opportunity to talk with the President about these issues in more detail.
13 Discussed with the colleague and the problems of the Arctic, especially taking into account the current Finnish chairmanship in the Arctic Council. In general, negotiations with the President of Finland were very informative. Undoubtedly, they will contribute to the further development of bilateral relations.
14 I want to thank Mr. President for accepting our invitation and arriving in Sochi today.
15 S.Niniste (as translated): Dear Mr. President! Dear representatives of the media!
16 It was very nice to meet with you today. And I join your words that we had a very clear, clear, constructive and productive conversation.
17 First, I must say about the economy. Here we have a positive development, and we will hope for the continuation of the same development.
18 I say this, despite the fact that - as a small mention we can say - there is a trade balance deficit not in favor of Finland, in favor of Russia. I say this, because now it has become fashionable to talk about this at international contacts.
19 Finland is very pleased with the way cooperation works on our common border. It works well and is normal, despite the fact that the intensity of traffic is growing at the present time. I apologize for the fact that some had to experience delays in their movement across the border.
20 We talked about environmental issues in many dimensions. Firstly, it was said that during Finland's presidency of the Arctic Council, environmental issues are also on the forefront.
21 We have outlined some specific issues on which we are working, and certain, small steps have already been made in the right direction. This also applies to black carbon, the fight against black carbon, soot, the use of liquefied natural gas in maritime transport. And I want to thank Russia for its support in these matters. As far as I understand, we are both ready to participate in the Arctic Summit, if any.
22 I would like to say a few words about the "Northern Dimension" - a joint program of the European Union and the Russian Federation, thanks to which it became possible to build a treatment plant in St. Petersburg. We in Finland would like to see the Northern Dimension continue to live and live in the future, and we hope that in the sphere of waste management we could possibly find new joint undertakings of the project.
23 I also heard that now the principle of forest restoration is being carried out in Russia in approximately the same way as this principle has been working for many years in Finland. I am sure that for us, too, there are opportunities for interaction. And when we talk about forests, we probably should also mention forest fires. They, perhaps, became a surprise for us due to exceptional weather conditions both in Finland and in Russia, and in Sweden this summer, and we should more actively approach this issue.
24 And I am also pleased that after this press conference we will have an opportunity with President Putin to continue discussing the issues on the international agenda. It is always very interesting for me to listen to the opinion and views of Mr. President on this score.
25 Thank you for the conversation. It is possible, perhaps, to characterize our conversation here solar.
26 Question (as translated): Somewhere in late July, Russian Defense Minister Shoigu said that Finland's current cooperation with the NATO organization is forcing Russia to take countermeasures. How would you comment on this statement? A question for both presidents.
27 Vladimir Putin: The comments are very simple. We do not push our military contingents away from our borders to NATO countries. And the military infrastructure of NATO is moving towards our borders. The number of personnel and equipment near our borders is increasing. More and more exercises are being conducted, and now a very large NATO exercise is being planned right here, in the immediate vicinity of us, including in the Baltic region. Of course, we must look at what is happening there, strengthen our infrastructure. We must react to the fact that elements of the American missile defense system appear in our immediate vicinity near our borders.
28 I draw your attention to the fact that these are not just anti-missile systems. These are such systems that can be used for medium-range missile launches. But we, as I said, welcome the proposal of the President of Finland to reduce any tension, including flights of combat aviation.
29 The International Civil Aviation Organization has developed certain rules, but this does not apply to military aviation, this is of a recommendatory nature. We are ready to discuss this with our NATO partners, but they refuse it. We think that this is an unconstructive position, we hope that it will be changed.
30 Thank you.
31 S.Nininisto: It seems to me that it was about six years ago when I ascertained to Mr. Putin that Finland, like any self-respecting nation, provides itself with the maximum opportunities for self-defense. I have not heard a single critical word about Finland during this trip. But President Putin, for example, said about missiles of a certain type. But there are no such missiles in Finland at all, it does not exist. It seems to me very important that we all work to increase mutual understanding in the world. And so I come to my present visit.
32 Question: Mr. Niinistö, my question is primarily to you.
33 You last year at the forum "The Arctic - Territory of Dialogue" initiated the holding of the Arctic Summit, but afterwards it was said that for this it is necessary to fill it with a specific agenda. Now you are already a little bit touched on this topic, speaking about environmental issues. But what topics, in your opinion, it was necessary to raise at this event?
34 And, Vladimir Vladimirovich, the question to you. Opening today's meeting with your counterpart, you have already expressed your attitude to the Arctic Summit. But, in your opinion, what problems need to be raised during this meeting?
35 And if you will allow me to return a few days ago, to your visit to Austria. Colleagues in Berlin have already tried to ask you this question, but, unfortunately, then there was no way to answer it. It was still exclusively a private visit or did you manage to hold any substantive meetings with your colleagues?
36 Thank you.
37 S.Niinistö: So, there are three questions in one, right?
38 Yes, indeed, I spoke this way about a year ago and after that I repeatedly discussed this issue with President Putin. I am very pleased that Russia is ready to consider participation and is positive about this idea.
39 What could be considered at such a summit? I have already said that if the Arctic ice melt, if we lose the Arctic, we will lose the whole world.
40 Probably the first and easiest step would be to fight with black carbon, soot. And now certain measures are already being taken, for example, measures are being taken in the Kola Peninsula to switch from fuel that is more harmful to ecology to less harmful fuel when using thermal power plants.
41 And the second event is the transition of Arctic navigation to the use of liquefied natural gas as fuel instead of fuel oil and other heavier ones.
42 It may seem that these are very small steps. But if we do not take such small steps at least, we probably will not do anything.
43 I also see the opportunity to discuss such a large and serious issue - the ratio of economic exploitation of the Arctic region and the protection and preservation of the environment, and how to find the right balance.
44 Vladimir Putin: First of all, I join in what was just said by my colleague. Maybe I'll try a few more details.
45 We need to talk about the rules of economic activity, including when implementing major projects - this is unconditional. We need to discuss issues related to ensuring the safety of navigation in these latitudes, organizing rescue operations, including in the event that some unfavorable environmental circumstances occur.
46 It would be very useful to discuss the possibilities of joint work on the conservation of fauna, fauna, bearing in mind that many animals in the Arctic are in a difficult situation. For example, due to the melting of ice, polar bears are already in danger.
47 And, finally, scientists from all countries of the Arctic region could unite their efforts, and from the state level they should certainly be supported in organizing various kinds of research - both in the field of climate change, and in the area, as I said, the conservation of the nature's fauna in the broadest sense of the word.
48 As for the second part of your question, a trip to Austria, this trip was of a purely private nature, I want to thank again Austrian friends for the invitation. I must say that these are all grown-up people who already occupy a serious position in society, in the state, but at the same time people are very open, cheerful. And I wholeheartedly wish to congratulate them once again with the event, in which I was fortunate enough to take part, at the wedding ceremony itself. Moreover, the newly-made husband is not a stranger to me, he is a former sportsman, a judoka, and this always unites.
49 But we, despite this holiday, could, of course, talk with the Minister of Foreign Affairs briefly, and with the Chancellor of the Republic of Austria, talk on business, I mean, of course. And I would like to note that the Austrian Republic as a whole plays a very positive role, not only seeking to develop bilateral relations, but also a positive role in building a dialogue between Russia and the European Union as a whole.
50 Finland will soon lead the EU, in the second half of 2019, in my opinion. We very much hope that during the Finnish presidency we will also be able to do something positive, in order to restore the normal state of Russian-EU relations.
51 Thank you.
52 Question (as translated): What is your assessment of the results of the meeting with the President of the United States of America in Helsinki? Five weeks have passed since the day when this meeting was held. Today, new, new US sanctions against Russia come into force. The US is also threatened by the fact that they can still impose sanctions related to the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline. What is your assessment?
53 V.Putin: "Nord Stream-2" is needed in Europe. This is a project that Europe needs.
54 Mr. President just said about the need to switch to more environmentally friendly fuel in the Arctic, this is absolutely the right proposal. But this is not the only sphere of application of blue fuel. The most important thing is that consumption volumes, including in Europe, are growing. Gazprom, for example, increased its supply to the European Union by almost 13 percent last year. And own resources in European countries - and in Norway, and in other countries, in the UK - are depleted. This is just what is called a medical fact, this is established by experts. Can not doubt, so it is.
55 In this business there are certain rules: the volume of supplies and the magnitude of the route. At a scale where Russia delivers gas to Europe, and at such a distance between the sources of this gas, between production points and points of delivery, Russia is the most optimal supplier for the European economy. We are ready to compete with everyone. We hope for fair competition in the framework of existing international legal norms.
56 As for our meeting with President Trump, I appreciate it positively and believe that it was useful. No one expected that in a two-hour conversation we could resolve all the issues that were still controversial. President Trump expressed his position on these issues, I am my own, but an exchange of views, direct conversation is always very useful.
57 As for sanctions, these actions are counterproductive and meaningless, especially with regard to such a country as Russia. And it's not just the position of the President of the United States, it's about the position of the so-called establishment - the ruling class in the broadest sense of the word. I hope that the realization that this policy has no prospects will some day come to our American partners, and we will begin to cooperate in a normal regime.
58 And we want to thank Helsinki for organizing this meeting.
59 Question: My question to the President of Finland.
60 If you do not mind, let's return to the topic that was already heard today. This is your initiative to ensure the safety of flights over the Baltic. It is a question of military aircraft flying in this region with transponders on.
61 Russia has repeatedly said, and today President Putin also said more than once about this: Russia agrees to your proposal, but the problem lies in NATO's position, the North Atlantic Alliance is not ready to follow these recommendations, but does not agree. And considering this, given the position of NATO, can you say that your initiative, in fact, failed, it can be crossed?
62 Thank you.
63 S.Nineinisto: I do not see this issue in such a gloomy state as you described.
64 At what stage, at what phase are we now? It is to this that the parties referred the consideration of this issue to the framework of ICAO, this organization, precisely in the rank of the civil aviation organization. In this work, some progress has been made. Good practices have been developed that can be applied, and there is also the hope that these principles and these mechanisms could be applied to military aviation, too.
65 The chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation, Mr. Gerasimov and his American colleague Mr. Dunford, met in Helsinki this spring, and I had meetings with both of them. I was surprised at how clear the interaction they are conducting in Syria in order to avoid any collisions or incidents. And, of course, the risks in that region are much higher and greater than in the Baltic Sea region. So I still cherish this hope that we will achieve results in the Baltic Sea region and the situation there will be stabilized.
66 Vladimir Putin: I would like to agree with the President of Finland. I do not think that the idea of ​​reducing the level of confrontation, increasing security in the Baltic Sea area has died. Of course, no, on the contrary, it becomes even more relevant in recent times.

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