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Stubb: Russia needs to be linked more closely to Europe

Foreign Minister says he would not go to Beijing Olympics "under these circumstances"

Stubb: Russia needs to be linked more closely to Europe Alexander Stubb
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Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb (Nat. Coalition Party) says that his personal goal is to link Russia more closely to the European system. He does not believe that Russia will ever become a member of the European Union, because he feels that two great powers will not fit into one union.
     "I believe in a free trade area, in which goods would move between Russia and the EU without tariffs. The closer the relations that are established, the more solid the dependency", Stubb emphasised at a lunch on Tuesday of the Association of Political Journalists.
     Stubb feels that Finland should not try to become a bridge builder - of the kind that can fall into the river. Instead, he feels that policy toward Russia needs to be dealt with through the European Union. He saw his own lack of experience in relations with Russia as a small hazard, but emphasised the competence of his advisors and the expertise of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs.
     "I am the generation for whom there has been a Russia. I remember the Soviet Union mainly as a magnificent hockey team, with CCCP written on their shirts", Stubb said.
     "I went to the eastern neighbour for the first time in the early 1980s with the hockey team of the City of Helsinki. I believe that my father Göran Stubb was the managing director of the team, and he warned me not to bring back vodka, because I was underage. I hid two bottles in a pair of knee protectors, and was the only one who didn't get caught", Stubb recalls.
Stubb did not take a direct stand on the decision by Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen (Centre) to attend the opening of the Beijing Olympics. Stubb said that the matter had been discussed within the government.
     "I am not going to the Olympics myself, but the primary reason is different - a wedding anniversary. If the situation would relax, and give a possibility for dialogue between Tibet and China, I might go. In this situation I would not necessarily go to Beijing", Stubb said.

Previously in HS International Edition:
  Prime Minister to attend opening of Beijing Olympics (21.4.2008)
  Foreign Minister Stubb sees no change in Russian policy on NATO (9.4.2008)

Helsingin Sanomat

  23.4.2008 - TODAY
 Stubb: Russia needs to be linked more closely to Europe

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