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  Saturday, December 14, 2019
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Relations between Russia and the European Union will dominate the agenda of talks between Finland and Russia that start Tuesday in Moscow
Relations between Russia and the European Union will dominate the agenda of talks between Finland and Russia that start Tuesday in Moscow, the Finnish foreign minister said. Finland will assume the rotating presidency of the EU next week, and Russia hopes to improve relations with Europe by using its traditionally close political and economic ties with its Nordic neighbor. "Relations between the EU and Russia are one of our priorities," Erkki Tuomioja said at the start of a meeting with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov. Russia accounts for 12.4% of Finland's trade turnover, and is its second largest trade partner after Germany. Finland is one of Russia's top ten economic partners. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week hailed bilateral economic cooperation at a meeting with Finnish President Tarja Halonen, and voiced hopes that procedures for obtaining visas to Europe would be simplified further. Russia and the EU signed agreements on visa facilitation and readmission at an Russia-EU summit held at the Black Sea resort of Sochi in late May. Russia agreed to receive repatriated individuals who entered the EU from its territory illegally or stayed there beyond the term of their visas, while Europe will simplify visa-issuing procedures for students, journalists, businessmen, cultural workers, scientists and athletes in Russia.
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