I am grateful for this opportunity to meet members of the international press corps in Helsinki. Your work is invaluable and much appreciated by the Government. Having today served two weeks in the office of Foreign Minister, I am looking forward to closely co-operating with you.
Upon my appointment, I stated that my assumption of this office does not signify a change in the foreign policy followed by the Government. This goes for integration and our European policies as well as the Finnish foreign policy as a whole.
For us, good relations with our immediate neighbours are particularly important. I will actively promote Nordic co-operation. Our relations with Russia and other states succeeding the former Soviet Union have assumed new significance. The Baltic states, with Estonia in the lead, are high on our agenda. As Foreign Minister, I will actively pursue co-operation with regions adjacent to us.
Looking at the European Community, yesterday's referendum in Denmark is of particular importance. The Danish 'Yes' to the Maastricht Treaty is an important step in the integration process. We hope that it will also enhance prospects for an early entry into force of the EEA agreement.
The Danish vote is also important for the Finnish membership process. Negotiations with the Community have progressed well. They can now be continued in a more consolidated situation.
Possibilities to conclude the negotiations with a brisk pace have been enhanced through the Danish referendum. For my part, I will strive for solutions which correspond to our national interest and can be accepted by the Finnish people.