The President of Russia received in the Kremlin President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö, who is in Russia on a working visit.
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President,
I want to cordially welcome you to Moscow.
Thank you for accepting our invitation to visit Russia, despite the difficult epidemiological situation.
Finland is our reliable partner and a close neighbour. Next year, we will mark 30 years of the fundamental treaty that serves as the basis of current relations between Russia and Finland.
Of course, we will discuss the entire scope of our relations today. But first, I would like to note that, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, this year we can overcome, to a large extent, the economic damage that our relations have sustained due to COVID-19.
Russia-Finland trade has grown by 21 percent year on year. Both exports and imports have seen balanced growth. We continue to work on large projects. The intergovernmental commission has resumed its work.
Unfortunately, the tourist industry has suffered heavy losses. However, we have already resumed flights between Russia and Finland. I hope that by the end of the year, we will be able to resume railway service as well.
We continue our contacts in humanitarian sphere – unfortunately, still online. Nevertheless, this work continues.
I am pleased to note that Russia remains among the top trade and economic partners of Finland.
Mr President, welcome.
President of Finland Sauli Niinistö (retranslated): Thank you.
I am very pleased to have this opportunity after a two-year break.
We have all gone through something completely unexpected and I hope we are moving into the future.
Indeed, we are neighbours and have much in common but we have been kept apart by the pandemic.
It is a good thing we have held this session of the intergovernmental commission and had a constructive discussion.
Indeed, it is a pity our citizens travel less across the border. I hope we will return to the previous scale as soon as possible.
It is good we have an opportunity to discuss various issues. We have a wide range of items on the global agenda, including climate change. It is very useful for us, residents of small nations, to hear what people from larger countries think.
I would like to thank you once again for this opportunity.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you for mentioning the issues linked with environmental protection. The fact that we are neighbours matters a great deal because the implementation of the requirements that the international community is drafting now to counter climate change will largely depend on our concerted efforts. As Russian experts are telling me, our positions are very close to the views of our Finnish colleagues.
In this context, I would also like to say that Russia will hold the Presidency in the Arctic Council through to 2023. I know that Finland has always paid much attention to cooperation in the Arctic. I hope that today we will be able to talk about this as well.
Sauli Niinistö: We have one more issue in common. In the context of climate change, forests are becoming an increasingly important resource and today we have an opportunity to discuss forest-related problems.
I wish you every success during your Presidency in the Arctic Council.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much.