Security in the Baltic Sea region took centre stage in the discussions between President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö and President of the Republic of Poland Andrzej Duda on 24 October 2017. President Duda paid a state visit to Finland with his spouse, Mrs Agata Kornhauser-Duda, from 23 to 25 October 2017.
At the press conference following the discussions, President Niinistö highlighted the significance of dialogue. He reminded that Finland has been actively supporting dialogue between the Baltic Sea countries and particularly between NATO and Russia. One of the steps forward Niinistö mentioned is flight safety, a topic that Russia and NATO have discussed in the NATO-Russia Council.
“These are small steps, but we are living in a world where every step is necessary, no matter how small,” President Niinistö said.
“Polish and Finnish views on Baltic Sea security are more or less the same, as are our ideas of how to respond to any security threats,” said President Andrzej Duda.
The Presidents discussed both in private and in a larger group. The Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union was also on the agenda. President Niinistö has repeatedly asked: “What is a union that cannot provide security for its citizens?”
Russia and the Ukraine crisis were also discussed. “We talked about the sanctions directed at Russia but also about the various ways for dialogue with Russia,” said President Duda. As regards Ukraine, the Presidents reviewed topics such as the various suggestions of how to bring peacekeepers into the country.
President Niinistö congratulated Poland for the two-year membership of the UN Security Council starting next year.
President Niinistö also expressed a wish to Poland: “We hope that Poland will firmly raise the question of the situation of Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. It is catastrophic.”
In the discussions between the Presidents, the rule of law question and the dispute between Poland and the European Union were also addressed.
President Niinistö pointed out that, when joining the Union, a country must meet the ‘Copenhagen criteria’ for accession, and it is clear that the Member States are expected to also meet the same criteria during their membership.
“It is very important for Warsaw and Brussels to find a solution to this internal debate in the EU. We will have to remain unified and strong in order to face the challenges from outside the EU, such as climate change, migration and security threats. If the situation worsens outside the EU, people will flee from the areas that are no longer inhabitable. These are issues that we should be able to address together,” President Niinistö said.
President Niinistö said that he was pleased to have President Duda visiting Finland during the centenary year of Finland’s independence. He pointed out that there will be more to celebrate next year when Poland will celebrate the 100th anniversary of regaining its independence. President Duda congratulated Finland on its centenary year and invited President Niinistö and Mrs Jenni Haukio to Poland next year. There will also be further cause for celebration in 2019 as the year will mark a hundred years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Finland and Poland.