Upon meeting with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinistö in Kadriorg today, President Alar Karis said that Estonia and Finland are currently united by the fallout from Russia’s war in Ukraine. “We are in agreement that the best response to the barbaric behaviour of our mutual neighbour is even more cooperation, including in matters of defence, since our two countries will soon be fully fledged allies in NATO,” said the head of state. “We must also strengthen our ties even further in the field of energy.”
President Karis remarked that in its opposition to the West, Russia is using any and all means available to it to undermine European stability. “In addition to blunt force on the battlefield, they are also fanning the flames of the energy crisis,” he said.
The head of state pointed to last week’s rupture in the Nord Stream gas pipeline and the environmental threat it poses to the Baltic Sea as exacerbating the ongoing energy dilemma. “It is clear to me that there is no going back to Russian energy suppliers now,” he said. “They must quickly be replaced with liquid natural gas and, in the longer term, renewables as well, particularly off-shore wind farms. We must be candid and open with one another in discussing potential solutions to the worsening energy crisis so that people in both Finland and Estonia are protected during the cold months of winter.”
President Karis confirmed that Ukraine has Estonia’s unconditional support for as long as it is needed in countering Russia’s aggression. “We have provided the Ukrainians with aid to the value of a third of our national defence budget,” he said. “But we should already be looking ahead to the reconstruction of the beleaguered country and ensuring its rapid restoration.”
The head of state explained that both Finland and Estonia had taken a principled decision to restrict the movement of Russian citizens across their borders. “I am pleased that the European Union as a whole is adopting the same approach to this matter and taking a much more restrictive stance to the issuing of new visas to Russian citizens,” he said.
President Karis added that any grey areas in Europe give the aggressor the impression that it can employ military force in such areas with impunity. “Those days are over,” he said. “That is why Estonia backs NATO’s open-door policy and is firmly behind the decisions taken in Budapest to support Ukraine’s application to join the alliance. The Ukrainians have proven that they are worthy allies. Now is the time to make good on the promises made in 2008.”
The head of state explained that his discussions with President Niinistö had also touched on the special and historical ties between Finland and Estonia. “Tens of thousands of people from both sides of the gulf spend their days moving between our two countries,” he said. “The exchange of practical information between Estonia and Finland has become ever more efficient, and we are exploring new areas of cooperation as well.”