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Talking Europe

Finnish president talks Trump, Russia and NATO with FRANCE 24

As French President Emmanuel Macron visited Finland this week ahead of European elections in 2019, Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö granted an interview to FRANCE 24. He discussed ties with Moscow, the Helsinki summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in July, and Finland’s stance on NATO.

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As France's president visited Finland this week and called on EU members to "modernise" relations with Russia, Finland’s president told FRANCE 24 he remains committed to the sanctions against Moscow.

The Russian military carried out exercises in the Gulf of Finland in July that included a mock invasion and is set to launch its largest war games since the end of the Cold War on September 11.

>> Sensing threats from the West, Russia prepares to flex its military muscle

However, Niinistö told FRANCE 24's Catherine Nicholson that Europe needs to reduce tensions with Russia to render such military exercises unnecessary.

President Niinistö also confirmed that Finland is joining Macron’s "European Intervention Initiative" but not currently seeking membership in NATO.

On July 16 the Finnish president hosted a closely watched summit between US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. Niinistö insists Trump did not repeat his earlier statement that the European Union was a "foe" of the United States. "He did not repeat anything like that to me … I tried to tell him how important it is to have the translatlantic relation in good care. He did not deny that."

A programme presented by Catherine Nicholson. Produced by Isabelle Romero and Roxane Runel.

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