03:10 GMT10 August 2020
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    Western Sanctions Against Russia (737)
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    SDP Secretary General Reijo Paananen underscored that, as Russia's neighbor, Finland wants to maintain a friendly relationship with Moscow, but standing united on the Ukrainian issue is at the moment equally important, he said, because it is "the only way the EU can function."

    Correction: this article incorrectly named SDP Secretary General Reijo Paananen as Pentti Vaananen. We offer our apologies to SDP Secretary General Reijo Paananen and to our readers.

    HELSINKI (Sputnik) — Finland's second-most popular Social-Democratic Party (SDP) does not believe that Russia presents a military threat for their country, SDP Secretary General Reijo Paananen told RIA Novosti.

    "My party and myself, we don't believe that it's a military threat. For us Russia is a friend, it's a neighbor. If the problems are solved it's a prominent market, but not a military threat."

    Last week, Finnish Chief of Defense Gen. Jarmo Lindberg, said in a televised interview that Helsinki did not consider Russia to be an acute military threat. This came after Moscow announced its decision to reopen a military base some 30 miles from the Finnish border.

    Asked if the center-left SDP wanted Finland to join the 28-nation NATO bloc, Paananen said his party did not see any reason why they should do that. He added SDP was quite comfortable with the country's participation in NATO's Partnership for Peace program, and did not wish to upgrade it to membership.

    "Our party is not in favor of Finland joining the NATO, it's clear."

    Finland will vote in a parliamentary election this Sunday. In the last poll four years ago, SDP came second with 20 percent of votes and took 42 seats in the Finnish legislature. Opinion polls show that Social Democrats can win a fifth of parliamentary seats in the 200-seat Finnish parliament called Eduskunta.

    EU Expects Russia to Take Real Steps on Ukraine Situation

    Finland's Social-Democratic Party (SDP) links the relaxation of sanctions against Russia to notable progress on the Ukrainian crisis settlement, Reijo Paananen explained.

    "There is a clear guideline here, because the sanctions are [in place] in order to get the problem in Ukraine solved. When the steps have been taken… in order to solve the problem there, then the sanctions can be lifted, but first you need to have the steps and the actions, and results," Paananen said in an interview.

    The Finnish politician stressed the center-left SDP had agreed with the sanctions against Russia and helped frame them. He added criteria for defining progress in the conflict settlement had been agreed on within the European Union.

    "We have agreed how to see what the progress is, we want to follow that, because it can't function in the way when all the members of the EU have separate policies," the party leader pointed out.

    Paananen underscored that, as Russia's neighbor, Finland wants to maintain a friendly relationship with Moscow, but standing united on the Ukrainian issue is at the moment equally important, he said, because it is "the only way the EU can function."

    In March, the European Union voted to keep economic sanctions against Russia in place and linked their lifting to the implementation of the Ukrainian ceasefire deal, which was agreed on in February.

    Finland will vote in a parliamentary election this Sunday. In the last poll four years ago, SDP came second with 20 percent of votes and took 42 seats in the Finnish legislature.

    Topic:
    Western Sanctions Against Russia (737)

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    Tags:
    NATO, sanctions, Ukrainian crisis, Social-Democratic Party (SDP), Pentti Vaananen, Finland, Russia
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