President of Latvia Egils Levits made a working visit to Finland on Wednesday, 28 August 2019. The visit was hosted by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö.
President Niinistö and President Levits held official discussions in the Presidential Palace. In a joint press conference, both Presidents stated that relations between Finland and Latvia were excellent. “In our discussions, it was very difficult to find any disagreements. Yet, although our bilateral relations are excellent, there is assuredly still room for improvement,” said President Niinistö.
“We had a very thorough discussion on common values, such as the principle of the rule of law, democracy and freedom of speech, of which you, President Levits, have a great deal of experience,” said President Niinistö.
What do we have in common?
President Niinistö raised the European Union as the most important issue. “We have to ask, what do we still have in common? Unfortunately, it is mostly disagreements that are currently being discussed. We should be talking about our common interests, of which there are plenty. Why? To make the European Union stronger and to make our voice heard at the tables where geopolitics is conducted.”
“We also discussed security. It is delighting to see that Europe has awoken from a long dream in which the world was secure and we were making it better. Not everyone is thinking only of good and beautiful things. In order to defend the good, we must be strong.”
The Presidents also spoke about the situation of Belarus. “I agree with President Levits that the isolation of a neighbour is not wise – even if the neighbour has quite a lot of problems. It is important to maintain contact and dialogue.”
In addition to values and security, climate change was also raised in the Presidents’ discussion of the priorities of the Finland’s Presidency of the EU.
During his working visit, President Levits also met Deputy Speaker of the Parliament Tuula Haatainen and visited the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.
This was the first meeting of Presidents Niinistö and Levits. Former President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis made a working visit to Finland in 2016. President Niinistö last visited Latvia in November 2018.