President Niinistö: The Relations Between Finland and the U.S. Are Closer Than Ever

President Sauli Niinistö. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

President Sauli Niinistö. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

President Sauli Niinistö congratulated Donald Trump for the victory in the U.S. presidential elections on Wednesday.

“I congratulate Donald Trump on his election victory and the American people on the choice they have made. Donald Trump will become U.S. president at a time when the global political situation is perhaps as tense as it has ever been since the end of the Cold War,” Niinistö said in his statement.

Niinistö reminded that the U.S. president has “a unique position and responsibility in global politics.” “Donald Trump, the forthcoming leader of his country’s foreign policy, will have a major impact on how the world will look by the end of his term in office. It is crucial to us Finns that the United States remains committed to Europe and the security and stability of the Baltic region.”

Niinistö said that the relations between Finland and the United States are perhaps “closer than ever.” “We collaborate on many issues: the economy, defense policy, Finland’s NATO partnership, combating terrorism, monitoring the arms trade and, of course, the Arctic region,” Niinistö said. “In addition to direct bilateral relations, it is essential to work together for the benefit of humanity via the UN and other international organizations.”

President Niinistö, who is currently visiting Brussels, Belgium, to attend EU and NATO meetings, said that he excitedly followed the vote counting process on Tuesday night. When they were counting votes from Florida, Clinton’s support was even greater than Obama’s when he was running for the president.

“At that point, I thought that I will fall asleep and I slept an hour. I think I saw dreams and I woke up and everything had turned upside down,” Niinistö said.

I think I saw dreams and I woke up and everything had turned upside down,” Niinistö said.

On Wednesday afternoon, President Niinistö held a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. As expected, the journalists shot questions at Niinistö in relation to Trump’s victory.

“With the election of Mr. Trump does that make NATO membership less attractive or more attractive? Do you think that Mr. Trump’s victory will bring more stability or less stability to the Baltic region?” asked a journalist from the Wall Street Journal.

“NATO and NATO membership is not depending on one person only, even though that would be the president of USA, and it doesn’t have an impact in Finland, I do not believe in that,” said Niinistö. “We heard already earlier this morning, different kind of Mr. Trump talking. He was very constructive and surely we hope that he will continue on that way with regard to Europe to the European Union and surely NATO.”

In his victory speech, Trump, for example, reached out to the international community. “I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone — all people, and all other nations,” said Trump, who in an interview in July said that if he were president, the U.S. would not necessarily help the Baltic and Nordic countries or other NATO allies, if they would be threatened.

While Niinistö said that he believes that the U.S. would stay committed to NATO and to the collective defense of Europe, he also urged the European countries inside the EU to take more responsibility for themselves. “I have said many times that European countries inside the European Union maybe should wake up to take more responsibility of their own security and that is surely what Finland is doing, and has been doing, all these decades of, let’s say, self-evident peace time,” Niinistö said.

“Are you concerned that President Trump will find a new kind of relationship with Russia, with Vladimir Putin, and where does that leave Europe vis-à-vis questions like the Ukrainian crisis?” asked another journalist.

“In a situation like this where we are now, surely dialogue is very important, it’s needed and I’m quite sure that President Trump will continue to dialogue. He has expressed many times that he considers it  being very important. That has actually nothing to do with deterrence which is the other part that the NATO has decided and also partners to follow. We need these both paths to go forward,” President Niinistö said.