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Finnish Foreign Ministry says relations with Russia remain good

July 13, 2016, 19:15 UTC+3 HELSINKI
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HELSINKI, July 13 /TASS/. Finland continues maintaining good and constructive relations with Russia, Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini said on Wednesday on the sidelines of the annual SuomiArena political discussions in the town of Pori.

"We are not afraid of becoming dependent. Finland and Russia have good business relations. Reciprocal trade and its potential are enormous. Once the sanctions are lifted on Russia, our opportunities on its market will really be great. It is also important to maintain personal contacts: many Finns have good personal relations with Russians. It also means that our opinions coincide on some issues," Soini stressed.

Soini said that the Finnish side had always been straight with Russia without trying to hide its true opinion. "The Russians also value this approach," he explained.

When asked if the Finnish leadership has ever discussed the problem of human rights and freedom of speech with the Russian side, the Finnish foreign minister said that he had met both Russian official authorities; opposition leaders and representatives of various associations. "We discussed a situation when some foreign organizations had been announced foreign agents. It is absolutely natural for us to hear the opinion of the other side. It is important for getting a full picture," Soini said.

Soini called the Russians proud people who wanted to stick to their values. He remembered a scandalous gig of the Pussy Riot group in the Moscow Cathedral of Christ the Savior on February 27, 2012. Five members broke into the Moscow cathedral, performing a "punk prayer" from the altar.

The Finnish foreign minister said that the people of Russia could not approve of such actions in view of their values. Soini, however, said he thought it was wrong to sort people out by certain characteristics.

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