Minister Anne-Mari Virolainen to meet with colleagues in Stockholm

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen will meet with Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation and the Climate, Isabella Lövin, and Minister for European Union Affairs, Ann Linden in Stockholm on Thursday the 17th of May. Minister Virolainen said in a statement that Sweden is a close partner for Finland in both international development and trade policy. The two countries have many shared interests in trade policy.

Ministers Virolainen and Lövin will discuss EU’s budget for the 2021-2027 season, as well as cooperation to promote women’s reproductive and sexual health rights in development policy. With Minister Linden, Virolainen will discuss the agenda of the EU trade minister meeting.

Minister Soini on NATO

According to Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini, the European Union and NATO have shared interests in the Baltic region. From the Finnish point of view, NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence has a stabilizing effect in the Baltic Sea, Mr Soini said at the Centrum Balticum’s Baltic Sea forum in Turku. According to Minister Soini, Finland welcomes NATO’s policy of two roads, which emphasized both the deterrent effect and dialogue. He believes Finland’s partnership with NATO has developed in a positive way in the last couple of years. The so-called 29+2 cooperation between NATO, Finland and Sweden has benefited all parties. Shared military exercises give Finnish armed forces new opportunities to develop their skills and capabilities.

Gaza crisis

President Sauli Niinistö commented on the situation in Gaza on Monday evening after the Israeli army shot 41 protesters on the Israel-Gaza border. President Niinistö told Iltalehti that the situation is extremely serious and he is following the developments closely. He added that it is very important to refrain from all violence and use of force. The situation is delicate and the entire region is a like a powder keg.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini said the Finland is extremely concerned about the excessive use of force and the civilian casualties. Minister Soini said that Finland urges the parties to refrain from violence and to respect international justice and human rights, including the right to protest.

President Niinistö writes about global politics

President Sauli Niinistö has published a blog text that discusses the uncertain situation in global politics ahead of June’s Kultaranta discussions. President Niinistö writes that during the spring he has been thinking about the situations in Ukraine, Syria and Korea, and the crises of Jemen, Sahel and Afganistan. New crises have appeared since then, including the Israel-Iran conflict and the entire transatlantic relationship. The EU is a global economic power, but otherwise uninvolved in global politics. It will be difficult for EU to impose the message of order on superpowers led by individuals such as Xi Jinping, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin.

Minister Virolainen: Trump’s decision to postpone tariffs prolongs uncertainty

Finland’s Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen said that the positive aspect of President Donald Trump’s decision to postpone the steel and aluminium tariffs for the EU is that the tariffs did not take effect yet. President Trump postponed the tariffs until the beginning of June.

Minister Virolainen pointed out that the decision means that the uncertainty continues, which is bad news for all businesses. Furthermore, the decision does not remove the real problem, which is oversupply.

President Niinistö interviewed by YLE’s Ykkösaamu

Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö was interviewed by national broadcasting company YLE’s TV programme Ykkösaamu last week. In the interview, he spoke about various topics, foreign affairs among them.

President Niinistö commented on the situation of the Koreas, saying that he hopes the positive development continues. However, he reminded that in international politics, winds can suddenly turn. He emphasised that the meeting between the leaders of the Koreas was significant, and if they start creating a peace treaty, it is also significant.

Minister Soini visited Sweden

Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini met with his Swedish colleague Margot Wallström in Stockholm on Wednesday. According to Minister Soini, they discussed the problematic world from various viewpoints for three hours.

The agenda included, among other things, the diplomatic relations between the two countries, arctic region issues, EU budget, Brexit, Syrian war, North Korea, and once again Baltic Sea security and increasing collaboration in foreign and security policy played a major role in the talks.

Defence collaboration with Sweden has quickly increased since the Ukraine crisis started in 2014.

Trade deal between the EU and Mexico

On Saturday, the European Union and Mexico came to an agreement about renewing their existing tradel deal. The new deal replaces the agreement made in 2000. The deal is almost ready, but negotiations over technical details continue. The Finnish Government said they expect the final agreement to be ready by the end of the year.

Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen said the new deal was welcome because it changes outdated trade rules to match the needs of companies, removes duties and creates improved opportunities for Finnish companies on the Mexican market. The deal is particularly significant at a time when open trade and related cooperation has been questioned by many, Minister Virolainen added.