The main topics discussed at the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) with the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Finnish Parliament Eduskunta were the issues relating to the security of the Baltic region, and economic cooperation and transport connections between Europe and Asia via the Northeast Passage.
In the opinion of the Chairman of the Committee Marko Mihkelson, the bilateral relations between Estonia and Finland are very good. “We value Finland’s contribution as a partner in Nordic-Baltic cooperation, and in the European Union and in other international organisations. The special relationship between Estonia and Finland is unique in the world,” Mihkelson said.
Speaking of transport connections, Mihkelson said that the Nordic-Baltic region could be of interest to the whole Asia as a connecting route from the viewpoint of both trade and tourism.
“The Arctic Ocean is becoming more and more navigable, and this enables to establish a considerably shorter trade route from Asia to Europe. The potential railway network from Kirkenes through Finland to the south puts the idea of the Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel and the discussions over Rail Baltica in a completely new light,” Mihkelson said.
Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of Eduskunta Matti Vanhanen pointed out that a railway that reaches the Arctic Ocean would improve the logistic position of Finland and provide an alternative route to Finnish transport of goods. He thinks that the idea of the Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel should also be approached more widely than just a project between two cities.
The studies of the cost-effectiveness of connecting Kirkenes with the international railway network that Norway is conducting in cooperation with Finland were also spoken about at the meeting. For that, Finland is planning to construct a nearly 500-kilometre-long railway section between Kirkenes and Rovaniemi, which in its turn would enable to create a connection between Asia and Europe via the planned Tallinn-Helsinki tunnel and Rail Baltica.
Economic cooperation and foreign trade in a wider perspective, and applying for exceptions for the European Union in trade with the USA were also discussed at the meeting. In addition to that, the exiting of the United Kingdom from the European Union, its impacts, and border issues with Northern Ireland were spoken about, as well as the presidential elections in Russia and future relations with the common neighbour.
The meeting was attended by members of the Foreign Affairs Committee Barbi Pilvre, Maire Aunaste, Oudekki Loone and Henn Põlluaas.