Following the talks, Sergei Ivanov answered journalists’ questions concerning Russian-Finish bilateral relations and other international topics.
In particular, Mr Ivanov announced that during talks with Sauli Niinistro, the politicians discussed bilateral relations between Moscow and Helsinki as well as international security issues, first and foremost addressing the situation in Syria and Afghanistan, and prospects for settling the situation in Ukraine. During the talks with the President of Finland, Sergei Ivanov stated Russia’s position concerning the situation in Ukraine, including with regard to fulfilment of the Minsk Agreements.
Answering journalists’ questions, Mr Ivanov also announced that during the talks, the Finnish side was interested in prospects for removing the sanctions. “This prospect looks very hazy to me, but we will not ask for the removal of these sanctions; we were not the ones who implemented them, so it is not up to us to ask for their removal. That is the EU’s decision, not ours,” Sergei Ivanov stated, adding that the sanctions and countersanctions are clearly detrimental to the economies of all parties affected by them.
Due to the sanctions and decrease in oil prices in the first 10 months of 2015, trade between Russia and Finland dropped by 36%. For the first time in many decades, Russia dropped from its position as Finland’s number one trade partner to third place.
At the same time, Finnish companies that are already doing business in Russia will not shut it down. Finnish tourists will also continue to visit Russia, and Finland issues more Schengen visas to Russians than other EU nations.
Sergei Ivanov also expressed hope that implementation of the largest Russian-Finnish project – construction of the Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power plant – will begin in one to 1.5 years. The Russian Federation has already allocated 2.5 billion euro toward this project from the National Wealth Fund.
Mr Ivanov noted that contacts between the presidents of Russia and Finland are held regularly, several times a year. The Finnish side also expressed interest in establishing direct contacts between the two states’ presidential executive offices. Sergei Ivanov thanked his colleague Teemu Tanner or his hospitality and invited him to make a reciprocal visit to a Russian city in the upcoming year.
During the conversation with media representatives, a question was asked on the possible link between Russia’s operation in Syria and the Russian air crash in Egypt. Sergei Ivanov stated that such a relationship has not been found. The theory that this was a terrorist attack is one of several, and a final conclusion on the reasons for the air crash has not been established, the Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office stressed.
Answering a question on whether it is possible that cooperation between the US and Russia in the fight against terrorism will be intensified in light of recent events, Sergei Ivanov noted that anti-terrorism-related contacts between Russia and the United States were never interrupted, but are currently less intense. At the same time, Mr Ivanov pointed out that prospects for activating and developing those contacts depend on mutual political will and the specific situation. In modern conditions, terrorism can only be fought globally and through the joint efforts of all nations.