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    Moscow assigns priority to trade and economic relations with Helsinki - Foreign Ministry

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    MOSCOW, June 3 (RIA Novosti) - The development of trade and economic cooperation is a priority of Russian-Finnish relations, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko said.

    Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen will arrive in Moscow on a working visit on June 7.

    Alexander Yakovenko said that Finland was Russia's eighth trade partner in trade and Russia is Finland's third foreign trade partner. The 2004 bilateral trade turnover reached a record 9.67 billion euros at a sustained growth tendency and a favorable balance for Russia - 966 million euros (the trade volume in 2003 stood at 7.83 billion euros and 6.7 billion euros in 2002).

    Bilateral talks assign priority to the development of trade and economic relations, Yakovenko said.

    Search for new areas and forms of cooperation that would prompt diversification of economic contacts is also in the focus, Alexander Yakovenko said. "The raw materials trend (over 80%) of the Russian export make it too dependent on the world economic situation and causes the need of introducing new models of cooperation," the diplomat said.

    Finland is among the biggest investors into the Russian economy in the volume of accumulated investments (over $1 billion).

    According to Yakovenko, the interaction in the forest complex is "a moving force". He hopes that the dialog between the two countries will provoke practical steps towards a higher investment activity of Finnish partners in Russia's forest sector, creating in it new industries with a high degree of processing.

    "The sides also discuss promotion of big joint projects in the fields of transport, energy and environmental protection. Problems in their realization are being detected. Strategic goals and promising directions of joint work are being discussed," Yakovenko said.

    As regards the dialog on international affairs, Moscow and Helsinki exchange opinions on the outlook for the realization of roadmaps towards creating common spaces of Russia and the European Union - economic, freedom, security and justice, foreign security, science and education including cultural aspects, Yakovenko said.

    "The dialog with Helsinki on Russia-EU relations is very important on eve of Finland's chairmanship in the European Union in the second half of 2006. Finland's vision of the future of the EU 'Nordic dimension', initiated by the Finnish side is of special interest," the official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

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