On Monday 25 November, Prime Minister Antti Rinne visited Moscow to meet the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, for the first time since Rinne became Prime Minister.
According to the Finnish Government Communications Department, the main topic discussed by the Prime Ministers were international relations. The fact that relations between the two countries are not going through their best moment is illustrated by Rinne's statement that relations are "as good as they can be under the present circumstances".
A series of disagreements floated over Rinne's visit to Moscow. At the international level there is the Russian annexation of Crimea and the sanctions imposed to Russia by the European Union. And on a bilateral level, there is Finland's recent announcement that it will restrict the access of citizens from outside the European Union (EU) to the purchase of real estate in Finland. Many believe this new act is aimed at limiting the acquisition of real estate by Russians.
With respect to the Ukraine conflict, Prime Minister Rinne stressed Russia’s key role in finding a solution. But his words included a rejection of the annexation of Crimea:
“Russia has a decisive role in solving the Ukraine conflict. The relations between the EU and Russia cannot be normalised until the Minsk agreements have been fully implemented. We do not accept the annexation of the Crimean peninsula. Finland was among those who made the decisions, and we are fully behind the policy pursued by the EU,” Prime Minister Rinne says.
Restrictions to real estate acquisitions
Among the topics raised by Prime Minister Medvedev was the new act coming into force in the beginning of next year that will restrict real estate transactions involving foreign nationals.
“What I pointed out to Prime Minister Medvedev was that this act will apply to all non-EU and non-EEA nationals and companies, instead of being targeted to Russia alone,” Prime Minister Rinne says.
On his visit, Prime Minister Rinne was accompanied by Minister of Transport and Communications Sanna Marin and Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Jari Leppä.
“There is a lot we can achieve together in environmental issues. We talked about concrete measures relating to the Paris Climate Agreement, and I also told about the Baltic Sea Summit that I have been planning,” Prime Minister Rinne explained.
In connection with the trade relations between Finland and Russia, the Prime Ministers looked into the opportunities to develop the business environment in Russia.
“Russia is an important market for many Finnish companies. We have a lot of expertise in fields such as the treatment and management of industrial waste and wastewater,” Prime Minister Rinne said.