Halonen chides Russian lawmaker

  • 2005-04-20
  • Staff and wire reports
TALLINN -Finnish President Tarja Halonen has rejected a Russian lawmaker's suggestion to discipline the Baltic states.
Halonen said there was no need for Finland to advise the Baltics, a suggestion floated by Sergei Mironov, speaker of Russia's upper house of Parliament, Finland's STT news agency reported.

In the president's words, Finland has no place to act as an elder sister or brother. "We can say, based on our own experience, that this shouldn't be recommended to anyone," Halonen said April 15 during a luncheon with members of the Finnish association of journalists.

Mironov, one of the staunchest pro-Putin lawmakers to the extent that he's prepared to change the constitution to allow Putin a third term in office, announced his advice during a recent visit to Finland. Russian politicians have pointed to Finland's Swedish minority in the western part of the country, which enjoys full voting and linguistic rights, as a model of European integration that the Baltics should take up.

President Halonen expressed hope that Russia and the Baltics would manage to solve unresolved bilateral matters, such as the border treaties. She said that this would be a show of good relations between the EU and Russia, adding that Finland would be ready to host the negotiations if "a Finnish milieu" helped achieve results.

Meanwhile, Marko Mihkelson, chairman of Parliament's foreign affairs committee, said in Helsinki this week that the Nordic and Baltic countries needed to cooperate closer and that a strategic partnership between the EU and Russia would only be successful if it "is based on common values."

He said democratic developments in Ukraine, Georgia and other countries would only increase Russia's long-term security.

The chairwoman of Finland's foreign affairs committee in Parliament, Liisa Jaakonsaari, said that Russian mistrust of the EU was hindering progress in relations, the STT news agency reported.

"They don't have a clear idea of what they want," Jaakonsaari said. She added that Russia didn't want to be a target of cooperation, but a partner in it, having no clear idea of what that would take.

Prime Minister Andrus Ansip is planning to make his first foreign visit to Finland in first half of May, a tradition shared by previous newly appointed PMs. Juhan Parts, however, made his first visit to Denmark.