The Finnish Prime Minister gave a press conference today as President of the EU Council. He covered three major topics in addition to some details about the ongoing budget negotiations – this latter matter is still to be agreed upon and may not see any conclusion before Christmas.
Immigration, Turkey and Syria – The Finnish Prime Minister confirmed that Europe needs to treat Turkey in a balanced way to avoid any worsening of the crisis situation now facing the world. He spoke about the success the EU has in keeping separately the 2 questions of immigration and the war. The attack on a sovereign nation by Turkey is an act of war and therefore wrong. He believed that the EU has reacted firmly and decisively, but we now need to carefully consider the results of any action that we take in relation to Turkey.
One could think that the PM was referring indirectly to Trump who, according to the New York Times continues to react recklessly and without considering the consequences of his actions:
“Trump’s reliance on his instincts, and his relationships, led him to ignore the consequences of a move that has emboldened Russia, Iran and the Islamic State, ” and “Trump Is Making Syria, and the Middle East, More Dangerous”.
PM Rinne pointed out that there are now some 10 million refugees in camps or being displaced in Syria and Turkey as a result of the war . There are also large numbers of ISIS prisoners who have escaped and now pose a security threat. He emphasised that much needs to be done urgently to stop the war and find ways to stop mass immigration of refugees.
EU Expansion – With regard to Russia, the Prime Minister also discussed that question of EU’s expansion – Albania and North Macedonia are the 2 candidates. He pointed out that these countries need to trust the EU because “other countries” are showing an interest to interfere in the Balkans. He refused to speculate about France or other countries that want to limit expansion.
Brexit – Finally he spoke briefly about Brexit and said that he still thinks that more time is needed to reach a solution because the EU must do much to avoid a hard Brexit, which is not in any nation’s interest. Such a solution would hurt all parties and cause economic hardship.