President Niinistö to Finland Today: The Summit Between Trump and Putin is About Enhancing Peace

Filming and interview: Tony Öhberg

To Finland Today’s question about what the mid-July summit between the US President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in Helsinki means to Finland, President Sauli Niinistö offered a thoughtful answer:

“We consider that every nation should do its best to try to enhance peace. I consider this as enhancing peace, ” Niinistö said at the official residence of the president of the republic, Mäntyniemi, on Thursday evening.

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Finland has consistently advocated dialogue in international relations. During the past year, Finland has hosted meetings of the deputy foreign ministers as well as the chiefs of defense of Russia and the United States. According to Niinistö, the meeting of the presidents in Finland is a natural continuation to this and brings the dialogue to the highest level.

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The agenda of the meeting of Presidents Trump and Putin will be decided during the next two weeks, but they will, according to Niinistö, certainly discuss the overall international situation and hopefully also arms control and disarmament issues. Niinistö said in his official statement that “even small steps in reducing tensions would be in everybody’s interest.”

President Sauli Niinistö in Mäntyniemi, Helsinki on June 28, 2018. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

President Putin has wished that he and Trump would meet in a neutral environment. In Mäntyniemi, Niinistö said that he had just learned the meaning of the expression.

“’Neutral’ in this case refers to a third-party country, according to the Russian terminology. A top-level meeting such as this is preferably arranged in a third-party country. Just like Yeltsin and Clinton met in Vancouver, Medvedev and Obama met in London and Trump and Putin met in Hamburg. Those are what the Russians call ‘neutral places.’ “I think we fit in that club very well.”

According to Niinistö, the efficiency of the Finnish authorities, “the machine” as he called it, is very capable to organize a top-level meeting with a fast schedule. Naturally, the security arrangements will be most strict.

“It may very well be one of the reasons for the interest of arranging various meetings. Here they go smoothly.”

President Niinistö will also have bilateral discussions at least with President Trump, according to the wish of the US, and it is very likely that Niinistö will have discussions with Putin as well.

“I will talk about the Arctic and black carbon, sticking stubbornly to the same subjects,” Niinistö said.

President Trump and Putin will meet in Helsinki on July 16.

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