Pictures: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today
The Polish foreign minister, Jacek Czaputowicz, was on a two-day visit in Helsinki between February 12th and 13th. On his first day, he visited the parliament and on the second he met with President Sauli Niinistö, then held talks and a press conference with the Finnish foreign minister, Pekka Haavisto (the Green League).
The purpose of the meeting of the two foreign affairs ministers was to “intensify dialogue on key foreign policy and security matters,” and to “promote the countries’ bilateral commercial and economic cooperation in EU matters.”
Minister Haavisto opened the press conference by affirming that Finland and Poland “have a long-standing relationship,” pointing out that Finland was one of the first countries to recognize Poland’s independence. He went on to praise trade relations between the countries and noted that around 200 Finnish companies participate in the Polish market.
He told the press in attendance that he and his Polish counterpart discussed European security and Baltic cooperation, rule of law matters, and concluded his statement by saying that “bilateral relations between Finland and Poland are unproblematic.”
Minister Czaputowicz, for his part, agreed that the two Baltic neighbors “are reliable partners in the European Union” and that the meeting with Haavisto was “fruitful.”
He also praised the two countries’ “enhanced bilateral cooperation since 2011, which covers such areas as economy, energy, information, and communication technologies,” and said that he discussed the further development of this cooperation with his Finnish colleague. He was pleased to report that “trade turnover between Finland and Poland is increasing, with the presence of Finnish companies on the Polish market.”
The minister then turned to security concerns, an area in which the two countries have a close cooperation. He referred to Finland’s efforts to address so-called hybrid threats at the European level, especially the establishment of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, which is based in Helsinki.
“We appreciate our cooperation on security,” he said, “including Finnish partnership with NATO, in particular Finland’s efforts to strengthen security in the Baltic Sea region.”
He concluded with an assurance that “Poland will continue its efforts to ensure our relations remain strong and stable.”
Following the ministers’ accounts of their conversation, neither of which went into much detail about the most prominent security matters in question, the floor was open for a brief Q&A.
Poland’s stand-off with the EU regarding Poland’s recent judiciary reform, which the European Commission considers a threat to rule of law, was brought up. Minister Czaputowicz responded that “we are satisfied with the current existing mechanism concerning the rule of law,” but also acknowledged that there are “some disagreements” with the European Commission about “the interpretation of certain changes” introduced in the Polish judiciary. “At the same time,” he added, “we obey decisions from the European Court of Justice,” should the court ever find any fault with Poland’s protection of the rule of law.
The second and final question probed for details regarding security in Eastern-European countries, namely if EU countries should be more involved in relations with countries like Belarus, in order to limit the influence of Russia. Haavisto affirmed “the importance of engaging with Eastern-European countries,” and reminded of his visit to Belarus, where President Lukashenko supposedly told Finland’s delegation that he considers the Nordic model to be an ideal social system. Czaputowicz joined in by expressing support for sovereignty of Belarus, adding that “we also appreciate the United States’ interest in the region.”
This concluded the press conference. Later that day, Minister Czaputowicz would end his visit to Finland by attending the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and Poland, co-hosted by Polish Ambassador to Finland, Piotr Rychl, and Director-General of the Finnish National Archive, Jussi Nuorteva.