Finnish leaders comment on Medvedev victory
President Halonen invites Medvedev to visit Finland
"A clear majority of the Russian people support the policies of [Vladimir] Putin - that is quite apparent from that election result", said Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen, commenting on the result of the Russian Presidential election in a telephone interview on Monday.
"Another side is that the election struggle itself included a number of characteristics that were unusual from a Western perspective, such as the fact that the candidate did not take part in an election debate with the other candidates."
Vanhanen noted that in the West, refusing to take part in a debate would lead to a decline in support, but this did not happen in Russia.
In his view, Russia has a "different kind of democracy than what we are used to in the West".
Vanhanen sees continued stability in Russia as a positive matter. "Worst for us would be a chaotic Russia", Vanhanen says.
President Tarja Halonen commented on the Russian election result with a statement issued on Monday. She congratulated the winner, Dmitri Medvedev, by telephone and invited him to visit Finland.
The two presidents are also scheduled to meet in the summer in Hanti-Mansia in West Siberia, during the World Congress of Finno-Ugric Peoples.
Halonen and Medvedev have met three times - most recently in Moscow in September. According to Halonen, Medvedev is familiar with Finland and he is aware of the good relations between the two countries, as well as the practical problems linked with cooperation.
"During the conversation both said that they were confident that the good cooperation between Finland and Russia and between the presidents of the countries would continue in the future as well", Halonen said in a press release.
Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva (Nat. Coalition Party) said that he expects Russia's great power policies to continue, but added that he expects "foreign policy confrontation" to decline to some degree.
Kanerva also predicted that under Medvedev, Russia would make advances toward membership in the World Trade Organisation.
Kanerva also said that it will be interesting to see what kind of a government is set up, considering the relationship between Medvedev and Putin.
Minister of Defence Jyri Häkämies (Nat. Coalition Party) said that the result of the Russian Presidential election shows that Russia will continue on its familiar path.
"From Finland's point of view this is an expected, and, so to speak, an easy result", Häkämies said.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Russians in Helsinki flock to embassy to vote in Presidential election (3.3.2008)