Halonen and Vanhanen meet Obama - briefly
Half of EU leaders get to speak, Sweden speaks on behalf of Nordic region
Both President Tarja Halonen and Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) downplayed the fact that they did not get a chance to speak in connection with the Prague summit between the European Union and the United States.
The holder of the EU Presidency, the Czech Republic, was reportedly offered two topics to choose from. Halonen would have spoken about foreign policy, and alternately, Vanhanen would have spoken about the economic crisis.
However, the only Nordic EU member to be granted the opportunity to speak was Sweden.
“The President [the Czech Republic] announced that we will follow a geographic balance. Sweden is the next holder of the EU Presidency, and I understood that this was the reason [for Sweden being chosen]”, Vanhanen said.
About half of the leaders of the 27 EU member states were given the opportunity to speak at the summit.
According to Vanhanen, a “comprehensive desire for cooperation” was the main achievement of the EU-US summit.
“No ideas came up that the other side could not subscribe to.”
Halonen also praised the Americans’ new desire to cooperate with Europe. Halonen and Vanhanen got the chance to exchange just a few words with Obama.
Before saying goodbye, Halonen invited Obama to Finland.
The US President asked Halonen if it was best to visit Finland in the summer or winter. He said that he had heard that the Finnish winter is very cold. Halonen advised Obama to come in the summer.
According to the Finnish President, the exchange should not be construed as a promise that Obama would be coming to Finland. Other European leaders also extended invitations.
Previously in HS International Edition:
NEWS ANALYSIS: Finland building relations with Obama from reasonable position (19.1.2009)