The European countries face many challenges, the most important, however, being the topic of cooperation in security and defense, Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Timo Soini told on Wednesday in Bucharest a joint press conference alongside his counterpart, Teodor Melescanu.
“We have many challenges in Europe – the multi-annual financial framework, elections, but the most important is PESCO – security and defence cooperation. We believe we are bound by many things in relation to these matters. Economic development and the creation of opportunities especially for the youth are common agenda’s topics. Globally however, I would highlight security, security in Europe, security alongside our partners and the development of European cooperation on security, defense and intelligence issues,” Timo Soini pointed out.
He spoke about this aspect given that Finland is sharing, alongside Romania and Croatia, the trio of the presidency of the Council of the European Union, as of January 2019 until June 2020 (each country holding the presidency for one semestre, ed.n.).
With regard to security, the head of the Finnish diplomacy also approached the matter of his country’s partnership with the North-Atlantic Alliance.
“I have noticed that the NATO-EU cooperation is beneficial to both parties,” he added.
The Finnish official underscored that for his country, “the partnership with NATO is very important, politically and militarily” and showed that most citizens “do not uphold the idea of being a part of NATO” at present.
“But this does not mean that we are not collaborating, as closely as possible with the Alliance,” he further said and gave as example the fact that Finland increased the number of troops sent to Afghanistan, in operations within NATO, from 40 to 60.
“We believe NATO is an essential element and an absolute guarantor of the European security, in the broad sense,” Timo Soini affirmed.
As for the Finland-Russia relation, especially in the context of the northern country’s closeness to NATO, Timo Soini said: “Russia has no involvement in Finland. We have a 1,340-kilometre border with Russia. There is a border between Finland and Russia.”
In his turn, Minister Teodor Melescanu spoke about Romania’s priorities in relation to the presidency of the Council of the EU in 2019, in agreement with Finland, that will hold the presidency immediately after Romania.
he Romanian chief diplomat said that the emphasis should be placed “on the continuity” of policies.
“It is about the citizens’ security and Europe’s security in general,” Melescanu affirmed.
He mentioned the multi-annual financial framework which “actually voices what the European Union’s priorities will be,” but also priority topics for Romania.
“As far as we are concerned, ensuring the continuity of the EU’s policies with regard to the cohesion policy and the common agricultural policy represent a priority topic. It is an essential topic for us and we hope we will continue to have support,” Melescanu said.
The Romanian minister also talked about an agreement with his Croatian and Finnish counterparts, to talk to Federica Mogherini, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy at the Foreign Affairs Council, “in order to see to what extent the issues related to the EU’s foreign affairs will be coordinated during this trio.”
In the context of his counterpart’s visit, Melescanu emphasised that “the Finnish educational system” has become a landmark for Romania.
“Our interest in gaining access to Finland’s experience is great,” he pointed out.
Moreover, Melescanu announced “Romania’s intent in becoming a participating state in the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.”
At the same time, the head of the Romanian diplomacy stressed a demarche of the Finnish side that brings tribute to the Centennial.
“We express our appreciation for the initiative of the Finnish side of planting 100,000 oaks in Romania in a project that will be related to the Greater Union Centennial,” Melescanu said.
President Iohannis’s efforts in support of rule of law, anti-corruption fight earn Finland’s recognition
Finland appreciates the efforts of the President of Romania in support of the rule of law and of the anti-corruption fight, Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said on Wednesday as he met with President Klaus Iohannis at the Cotroceni Presidential Palace, the Presidential Administration informed in a release.
President Iohannis highlighted the upward trend of Romania – Finland political and economic bilateral relations, voicing also his conviction that the high-level dialogue will intensify, the more so as the two countries will consecutively hold the Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2019, which requires tight coordination. In his turn, the Finnish official commended the stage of bilateral relations and agreed that more action is needed, particularly on economic ground.
As regards sectoral cooperation, Iohannis emphasized Romania’s interest in using education expertise patterned after the Finnish model based on innovation and research; the Finnish Foreign Minister expressed appreciation for the Romanian President’s personal commitment in this area, including by the promotion of the “Educated Romania” program.
The two officials had a deep-going exchange of opinions on the importance of education in the development of the societies of EU states, as well as in the combat of the sources of the migration phenomenon that affects Europe.
Iohannis and Soini also discussed preparations for this July’s NATO Summit in Brussels, with President Iohannis presenting Romania’s priorities for the summit, with emphasis on continuing the adjustment of the Alliance to the regional security environment resulted after the illegal occupation of Crimea, on ensuring cohesion along the Eastern Flank and the new NATO command structure. The sides swapped opinions on the security situation in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea region, and also discussed subjects of common interest such as increasing military mobility and the participation of the two states in the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.
Other subjects approached during the meeting were the European track of the Republic of Moldova, in the light of the visit the Finnish Foreign Minister will be paying to Chisinau in continuation of the Bucharest visit, and developments and perspectives of the Iranian and North-Korean nuclear files.