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Home NATIONALNiinistö played mediator between Russia, Turkey
Sun, 06 Dec, 2015 12:02:17 AM
Refugee situation in Europe out of control: President
FTimes – STT-Xinhua Report, Dec 6
Presidentti Sauli Niinistö spoke in Yle on Saturday. Photo – Lentikuva.
President Sauli Niinistö said he played the role of a mediator between Russia and Turkey in autumn.
The revelation came when the president answered audience’s questions on a programme aired by the Finnish national broadcaster Yle on Saturday.
Concerning a query about the role of a small country like Finland in the international politics, Niinistö said he had helped pass on messages between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, after meeting them one after another.
“I think a country of this size has a role to play in building relations between the East and the West,” Niinistö said. 
He emphasized that small players like Finland do play important roles in the international politics.
“I do not want to exaggerate my role as a peacemaker, but I think we have played a role – as large a role as a country our size can play – in building [relationships] between the East and the West,” Niinistö said.
During the Cold War, Finland played an active role as a mediator and peace broker.
Niinistö also stressed the potential role of the EU as a peace mediator. He hoped that the importance of the EU in the international relations would grow, particularly in the U.S.-Russian relations and the tensions in the Middle East.
“I see great potential in the EU. I have talked earlier about enhancing joint security and defence policies. EU together is much larger than EU countries separately,” he said.
Niinistoö spoke of the Finnish people receiving warm congratulations for Independence Day from, among others, US President Barack Obama and Putin.
“It warmed me that both the presidents stressed very much their gratitude for Finland’s active involvement in maintaining peace in the world and also for maintaining international connections,” Niinistö said.
The president underlined the EU’s key fundamental value of peace in the union and hopes that the EU's role in international relations will continue to grow. However, in his opinion, the refugee situation in Europe is out of control.
Europe has not been, in his view, successful in its reception of asylum seekers.
“We each blame ourselves a little, I certainly do. Human smuggling, which has been seen in the Mediterranean for many years, should have roused us to think and act, so that this would never have happened.”
In Niinistö’s opinion, it seems that the EU has finally, after negotiations with Turkey, arrived at such an arrangement which is both stable and humane. 
The ideal situation would be, in his opinion, for Europe to take in the most vulnerable people, including those families that have been forced to flee their homes for refugee camps in, for example, Turkey, Jordan or Lebanon.
The president added that Finland must take seriously those future asylum seekers who arrive via Russia.
Niinistö believes the countries as well as the newcomer asylum seekers must have the situation under tight control.
“Many Finns wonder whether or not we should close our borders. But it must be said from the outset that closing our borders sends a message that could result in others closing their borders when we need help. There are also international agreements that oblige Finland to act accordingly.”
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