In addition, a ceremony was held at one of Turku’s central squares, where a plate with Mr Putin’s name was laid in recognition of his efforts to protect the Baltic Sea environment.
The President of Russia was also presented with a Turku city medal. The medal is given to political and public figures for their services to the city, as well as the heads of foreign nations who make a major input into developing relations between their nation and Finland on arrival to Turku.
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Speech at 60th anniversary celebrations of St Petersburg and Turku’s relationship as sister cities
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, Mr Mayor, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
This certainly isn’t my first visit to Turku, and each time I’m here, I notice new signs of your city’s dynamic development. Turku is one of the oldest cities in Europe, but at the same time, it is one of the continent’s most dynamic and modern cities.
Turku has a technology centre and a research park, bringing together research and technology facilities in a wide range of domains – from biotechnologies to information technologies – and many other elements that would make any European city proud.
It is my great pleasure to participate in the celebration of the 60th anniversary since the establishment of a sister city relationship between Turku and St Petersburg. Even as far back as the Novgorod Republic era, our ancestors maintained active trade relations with this ancient city in Finland: we will be celebrating the 785th anniversary of those ties next year. We St Petersburg natives were very proud that in 2011, Turku was named the European culture capital of 2011 – and rightly so.
When Turku and Leningrad established a sister city relationship in 1953, they were among the first to implement the public diplomacy model in practice. In the 1990s, I was very lucky to be able to develop relations between our cities.
And at the time, Turku and Leningrad, and later St Petersburg, were the initiators of major environmental projects to clean up the Baltic Sea. And I can tell you that a great deal has already been done, but as one of our colleagues said here today, we will need to do even more. Currently, over 150 large and small towns in Russia and Finland are already united as sister cities.
I want to thank our Finnish partners from the bottom of my heart for their warm welcome, kindness and hospitality. This is a pleasant and important event for St Petersburg and Turku, and I want to congratulate both cities on the 60th anniversary since the establishment of a sister city relationship.
Please allow me to express my gratitude for the honour of being presented the Turku city medal. We will continue to do everything possible to develop relations between our cities and our nations.
Thank you very much for your attention.