Beginning of a Meeting with Finnish President Tarja Halonen 2008-06-28 17:21:00 Khanty-Mansiisk President Tarja Halonen (in Russian): Good morning, President Medvedev! President Dmitry Medvedev: We are pleased to welcome you, Madam President! We have a good reason for meeting today. The development of relations between Russia and Finland has been consistent and dynamic. I am sure that this is linked to the frequent meetings between the leaders of our countries: the more often you meet, the better your relations tend to be. With regard to the specific results of our work, trade between our countries is growing. The figures are impressive – 15 billion euros, a large amount indeed. Today, we are going to discuss a range of issues, the challenges that lie ahead and perennial problems. We are going to talk about everything. Most importantly, we will participate in the international festival of Finno-Ugaric peoples, which is crucial for maintaining good relations between Russia and Finland. Welcome to Khanty-Mansiisk. President of Finland Tarja Halonen (translated from Finnish): Thank you, dear Mr President! It is wonderful that the Russia-EU summit is being held in in Khanty-Mansiisk and that it is the occasion for our first presidential meeting. For many leaders and officials of the European Union no doubt this northern city and the conditions here seem exotic. For us it's exactly the opposite. This is like home to us, because we are at about same latitude. We hope that the international festival of Finno-Ugaric peoples will be successful. Naturally, we will be there too, it's part of our responsibilities. And representatives of the peoples and their organisations will conduct their discussions, their meetings. Dear Mr Medvedev! We have met before, and I am very pleased to be able to continue to build our relationship on a personal basis. There is very extensive cooperation between our two countries, and with that cooperation come certain challenges. I want to avoid the word ”problems“, which might have been used at one time. These challenges are the direct result of the high level of cooperation between us. It is probably a violation of protocol but I am going to chance it: I would like to mention here in the presence of the press the first item on our agenda. Dear Mr President, a small neighbouring country is awaiting your visit. We would be very glad to have you visit Finland. Dmitry Medvedev: Madam President, thank you very much for the invitation. Finland is a small country but I know it very well. I have already visited it, but not as President, so I would be delighted to come. Tarja Halonen: Our Finnish journalists are well aware that now in Finland there's a music festival at the moment that might be of interest to you: it's hard rock. Dmitry Medvedev: What are we waiting for?