HELSINKI, February 27. /TASS/. Finland and Russia have no serious problems in bilateral relations, with the two countries maintaining constructive dialogue, Finland’s Foreign Minister Timo Soini said in an interview with TASS.
"As concerns political relations, the situation is good. We maintain dialogue, our presidents hold meetings. As for me, I have met my Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov four times already [after being appointed foreign minister in May 2015]. Apart from that, we are maintaining contacts within international organization, such as the United Nations," he said.
"However, in terms of economic relations, regrettably, the situation is not that positive for both sides," he noted, adding that there is hope decreased trade and tourism flows will be restored to the former levels.
"Trade has gone down significantly. But now that the intergovernmental economic cooperation commission has resumed its work we hope the situation will improve. Apart from that, we are always glad to welcome Russian tourists. Now that oil prices are on the rise the Russian economy is visibly recovering as the tourism flow is increasing," the Finnish top diplomat said.
According to the Finnish foreign minister, relations between the two countries could be described as good neighborly.
"Of course, we have good neighborly relations. But even good neighbors may occasionally have problems, say, like we with Russia. And we discuss these problems. However I have a feeling that the current situation in our relations is good. I hope it will stay this way further on," he stressed.
The Finnish top diplomat said he doesn’t think Russia poses any threat to Finland. "But our relations are impacted by what is going on in other places. For instance, the development in Ukraine. They are impacting the situation in the Baltic Sea region and hence they are impacting us indirectly," Soini said, adding no one is speaking about any possible armed conflicts between Russia and Finland.
He said he hopes the sanctions period in relations between Russia and the West will be over sooner or later but found it difficult to say when. "As concerns the West’s sanctions against Russia, they are linked only with the situation in Ukraine and Crimea. I believe that one day we will settle this situation and the sanctions will be finally lifted," the minister said.
However, he stressed, the sanctions will stay in place until settlement in Ukraine is reached. "How long will it take? It depends on how soon peace is established in Ukraine. Let us hope it will be soon," Soini added.