President Niinistö: The Russians Have Been Offended – It’s Understandable

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President Sauli Niinistö surrounded by journalists in need of clarification for the denial of Russian participation in the OSCE meeting in the Finlandia Hall on Monday 6 July 2015. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

President Sauli Niinistö walks to the Piazza of the Finlandia Hall on Monday morning, steps under the hot spotlights designed to highlight his presence; a subject ready for interrogation.

A dozen journalists squeeze around him. We all want to know about the nature of current relations with our neighbour, Russia. The speaker of the Russian Duma Sergey Naryshkin, after all, was denied of access to the OSCE meeting, because of the sanctions laid against him by the EU, regardless of the fact that the OSCE meeting is essentially about creating peaceful and constructive dialog with the participants of 300 from 50 OSCE states.

“Let’s replay what really happened,” Niinistö says. “We have to realise that when we are dealing with the sanctions in the EU legislation, it is very confusing. Nobody actually knows the right context of those rules.”

Niinistö tells us that Finland didn’t say “no” to Russians. In fact, “We tried to prepare for a unanimous decision that they can come.”

“Unfortunately, they [EU] gave an objection, even though we tried to affect things under the hood to avoid such critical opinions.”

There we have it, folks: a stop to the circulation of the news that the denial of access was due to some kind of anti-Russian policy. As Niinistö put it, those news “sound crazy”.

“Regarding Russia, the situation is very unfortunate. The Russians have been offended. From their point of view, it’s understandable,” Niinistö says.

Finland simply as a member of the EU has to follow the legislation.

Even if it is as confusing as it gets.

The parliamentary assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe OSCE is held in the Finlandia Hall, Helsinki on July 5-9.