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Finnish President Call for 2025 Helsinki Summit; Endorsed by Putin

Dec. 16, 2021 (EIRNS)—Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has proposed a Helsinki summit in the spirit of the 1975 Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) which led to the founding of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The proposal has already been endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, most recently in their telephone discussion on Dec. 14. Niinistö made the suggestion in an op-ed column published in the leading daily, Helsingin Sanomat, on Sunday, March 28, this year, entitled “Arctic Cool and the Spirit of Helsinki.”

In his article Niinistö suggested that such a meeting could be a way to defuse what he sees as growing tensions among major powers such as the United States, China, and Russia. Such a summit has not been held since 2010. Summits are not held regularly and are held at the request of members, requiring a consensus among all members to approve the convening of a summit. While he lays much emphasis on such a summit taking up the issues of climate change from where COP26 left off, he also emphasized the security situation and East-West tensions over Ukraine and arms control.

Niinistö also referenced his proposal for an Arctic summit, which he said would be useful not only on climate matters, but also in relieving military tensions in the region. He wrote that he has stated before that Arctic issues are “cool enough for discussion even in hotter atmospheres.” He proposed that such a summit be held in 2025, fifty years after the original Helsinki Accords.

In the 1975 meeting, the heads of state of 35 countries in Europe and North America came together, which lowered Cold War tensions and led to the establishment of the OSCE in 1995. The OSCE Council of Ministers, which met in Stockholm earlier this month, named Finland to be president of the OSCE in 2025.

“In four years’ time, the celebration would be a good time to bring the spirit of Helsinki back to the world. Once again, a positive motion is needed, a precious foundation of the OSCE, respecting the values of freedom, democracy and rights,” the President wrote in his March statement. While 2025 is a long way off, he did not say such a meeting could not be held earlier. He has already held talks this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden.

According to the White House readout on the Dec. 13 telephone call between Presidents Biden and Niinistö,  “they discussed their shared concerns about Russia’s destabilizing military buildup along Ukraine’s border and the importance of transatlantic efforts to de-escalate the situation.”

According to the Kremlin readout of the Dec. 14 telephone discussion with Putin, they discussed the Ukrainian crisis, in which Putin emphasized the importance of Kiev’s complete and unconditional fulfillment of the Minsk Package of Measures.

Further, “Putin again stressed the importance of immediately starting talks with the United States and NATO. The goal of the talks would be to draft international legal security guarantees for Russia, ruling out NATO’s further movement eastward and the deployment of weapons systems threatening Russia in Ukraine and other adjacent states.” Significantly, Putin “emphasized that this fully conformed to the principle of indivisible security sealed in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act and the 1999 Istanbul Charter. In this context, Vladimir Putin supported President Niinistö’s initiative to convene a summit in 2025 in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe.”

Niinistö on Dec. 15 spoke by telephone with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during which he described the situation around Ukraine as “worrying.” He also spoke Dec. 13 with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, in which they discussed Mitsotakis’s Dec. 8 visit with President Putin in Sochi, the Ukrainian situation, and the Finnish President’s the proposal for a summit.

Niinistö, who has said in the past that he sees Finland playing a mediating role between Europe and Russia, began promoting the idea of reviving the “Spirit of Helsinki” earlier this year, presenting it in September during his United Nations General Assembly speech, and in November during a working visit to Berlin with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, at which the two presidents discussed the issue, as did German and Finnish experts.

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