President Niinistö in Washington: Europe needs the United States, but the United States also needs Europe

Bilateral discussions between President Niinistö and President Trump in the Oval Office. 
Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

Bilateral discussions between President Niinistö and President Trump in the Oval Office. Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö met President of the United States Donald Trump in Washington D.C. on Wednesday, 2 October 2019.

President Trump welcomed President Niinistö to the White House at noon. The programme began with bilateral discussions in President Trump’s Oval Office, after which the day continued with a working lunch. At their joint press conference, the Presidents said topics of discussion included security, the Arctic region, arms control, and trade and technology cooperation between the countries.

“We have quite a lot of cooperation in security sector, also in defense, because I think that we share the feeling that the most important thing for the nation is to guarantee security to its citizens,” said President Niinistö at the beginning of his statement.

He also said that Europe has awakened during recent years to understand more about the security point of view, and he reminded President Trump of the importance of transatlantic cooperation based on common values. “We know that Europe needs the United States, but I say that the United States also needs Europe,” said President Niinistö. “In my opinion, the stronger Europe we have, the stronger partner the United States has.”

President Niinistö mentioned that that the Presidents had also discussed arms control: “Some of us remember the worst years of the Cold War. We can’t let the situation return no agreement at all. It is important to try to negotiate and create new agreements.”

Arctic region of increasing interest

The Presidents also highlighted the Arctic region in their press conference. President Niinistö stated that President Trump had emphasised Arctic security. “Maybe there are also resources, but there are huge risks.  One of them is that we should keep the low tension we are used to have there.”

According to President Niinistö, the environment and climate are even greater challenges to the Arctic than military tensions: “I’m very glad that we started to talk two years ago in this very house about black coal.  It is not, maybe, the worst which causes climate problems, but melting of sea ice in Arctic is very crucial. I used to say that if we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe.”

Economic and technological cooperation will increase

During the working visit, the Presidents also discussed trade and technology cooperation. In their joint statement, issued in conjunction with the press conferences again, the President stated that the United States and Finland will strengthen bilateral and transatlantic cooperation in innovation, technology and research.

The Presidents mentioned that, in terms of future competitiveness, it was particularly important to strengthen cooperation in important new technologies such as 5G and 6G, artificial intelligence and robotics. Technology not only brings progress, but also challenges.

President Niinistö stated that he welcomed the United States’ support for the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, where many countries are working together to fight against the future danger of hybrid warfare. He said that the EU is currently making a risk assessment that will improve the capability to meet the possible future challenges of 5G technology.

100 years of diplomacy

During his visit, President Niinistö also had a breakfast meeting with Vice President of the United States Mike Pence. The topics of discussion included the transatlantic relationship and Arctic issues.

President Niinistö’s visit coincided with the 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and the United States. At the end of the press conference, Finland also issued a positive response to a United States’ request for the return of material from the National Museum of Finland’s Mesa Verde collection to representatives of the indigenous people.