MOSCOW, June 9 (RIA Novosti) – Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is starting a two-day working visit to Finland this Monday at the invitation of his Finnish counterpart Erkki Tuomioja.
The talks are to take place in the southwestern city of Turku.
Ahead of the visit Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said that during the meeting Lavrov and Tuomioja plan to discuss a range of questions related to Russian-Finnish bilateral relations, cooperation in the Baltic Sea region and the Arctic. The ministers are also expected to exchange opinions on urgent international problems, including the situation in Syria and Ukraine.
On June 10, Minister Lavrov is due to meet Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in his summer residence in the city of Naantali.
According to Lukashevich, Russian-Finnish ties over the past two decades are an example of good-neighborly relations with mutually beneficial cooperation in various spheres.
Russia has been Finland’s main trading partner since 2008.
At the same time the spokesman said that there was an apparent reduction in the intensity of contacts between the two countries in connection with Finland’s position on the conflict in Ukraine.
As a result the Finnish side has canceled or rescheduled to a later date a number of joint activities. According to Lukashevich, these measures failed to meet the principles of mutual benefit.
The spokesman stressed that the issue of children’s rights also remains a sore point in relations between the two countries. Since Finland adopted a new law in 2008, cases with children taken away from their families have begun to provoke disputes.
Mixed Russian-Finnish families have often found themselves in such situations.
Lukashevich said that Russian and Finnish experts were planning to meet already this fall to discuss children’s rights in conflict situations in mixed and Russian-speaking families.