The EU is not sufficiently united or strong enough in terms of international politics, Finnish President Sauli Niinistö admitted in a lengthy interview with the Finnish tabloid newspaper Ilta-Sanomat this past weekend.
While calling the upcoming meeting between Putin and Trump, which is scheduled in Helsinki on July 16, "promising," Niinistö said he was still worried about increasing polarization and world politics being increasingly centered on individuals. In particular, Niinistö expressed fears that the lack of solidarity and resolve in Europe allows the US and Russia to negotiate European issues without Europe's involvement.
Niinistö said this lack of solidarity and resolve creates an opportunity for the US and Russia to negotiate European issues without Europe's involvement.
"It is necessary that the US and Russia engage in bilateral talks, but they can't bypass Europe and intervene in European affairs. The risk of this happening has increased because the EU is not united and is not a strong enough actor in international politics," Niinistö told Ilta-Sanomat.
Furthermore, Niinistö ventured that the upcoming NATO summit that will start on July 11 prior to the Trump-Putin summit will be a huge indicator of the current state of the European-US partnership, revealing a great deal about its functionality. The Finnish president stressed that the current climate made this week's summit in Brussels crucial.
In the past, Trump has repeatedly scolded his European NATO allies for not shouldering enough financial responsibility for the alliance's common cause, sending personal letters to individual member state leaders with appeals to drastically step up defense expenditure. During the past G7 meeting in June, Trump arrived late and left early, giving rise to numerous speculations about the state of US-EU relations.
Nevertheless, Niinistö said he was optimistic about the Helsinki Summit, adding that he would particularly like to see the two leaders discuss disarmament as part of their agenda.
Finland remains a loyal EU member, but is one of the few European nations to remain true to its time-tested policy of military non-alignment, although its partnership with NATO has grown much closer in recent years.