FINNISH-RUSSIAN RELATIONS BETTER THAN ANY DAY BEFORE: FOREIGN MINISTER

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HELSINKI, September 24 (RIA Novosti's Olga Andrianova) - Finnish-Russian relations are now better than at any previous time, said Erkki Tuomioja, Minister of Foreign Affairs. He was addressing a seminar, "Russia-Finland: Good Neighbours' Future".

Finland is active in the European Union to simplify frontier-crossing formalities. The matter is vital for bilateral partnership strategies. So, just as Russia, Finland is badly dissatisfied to see the job going at a snail's pace, said the minister.

He regards Finnish-Russian frontier ties as great success-suffice it to mention more than six million who crossed the frontier last year alone.

The two countries are actively implementing a bilateral agreement for adjacent areas' cooperation. The Finnish budget has earmarked 25 million Euro for related projects in this year's budget. The allocations are up to the Foreign Ministry. Other ministries are responsible for allocations to a total 7 million Euro.

Just as Russia's partnership with the European Union, its links with Finland have four basic aspects-to establish a united economic environment; a united environment of freedom, democracy and law; a united environment of foreign security; and an environment of education, research and cultural projects.

The Foreign Minister pointed out special importance of environment protection partnership, and said he was glad to hear that Russia was willing to sign the Kyoto protocol.

As the conferees were debating topical economic partnership issues-in particular, the terms for Russia to join the World Trade Organisation, they unanimously said they were eager to see Russia a WTO member as soon as possible.

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