“Sparkle of hope in Russia policy”

Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb participated in a transatlantic dinner in Brussels, where he gave an introduction to foreign ministers of EU and NATO member states on the situation in Russia.

According to Stubb, Russia is undergoing a complex transition, and a window of opportunity has opened up for improving the relations between the West and Russia.

Stubb estimated that the economic crisis that has hit Russia even harder than the Western countries, the interior political movement in Russia, and the “sparkle of hope of a political change” have created a new kind of situation.

“The West’s Russian policy agenda could be expanded, breaking the old mould,” Stubb stated. “The agenda could be expanded in the direction of economy, and Russia needs to become a member of WTO,” Stubb said.

At the dinner, US Secretary of State Clinton underscored that Russia will be represented in the international forums in any case, either positively or negatively. We have a choice to either cooperate with Russia or not.

According to Clinton, it would be worthwhile to cooperate with Russia. Similarly, in his press conference Stubb emphasised that we should “offer our hand in cooperation to Russia.”

In the private talks between the Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State, Clinton commended the views Stubb had presented of Russia even in other respects.

The Foreign Minister and the Secretary of State will meet again in the meeting on Arctic issues to be organised in Washington DC on 6-8 March 2009.

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