Reflections After Meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland

On February 15, at the initiative of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, Pekka Haavisto, a meeting with the Russian NGOs was held at the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg. 

It took place in the evening after a busy schedule of afternoon meetings with the Russian authorities, including the Governor of the Leningrad Region.

In an hour and a half discussion over a cup of tea, representatives of two environmental and two human rights non-governmental organizations shared their ideas on possible areas of cooperation in which both Russia and Finland might be interested.

The author of these article briefly presented his vision on three issues that need to be discussed with the participation of the authorities, the expert community and the public of Russia, Finland and other countries of the Baltic region.

  1. Safe decommissioning of nuclear power plants, radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel management.

The first power units of the Leningrad NPP with RBMK-1000 reactors were finally shut down. Decommissioning of the LNPP will last 40 years, until 2060. This is a complex engineering, socio-economic, environmental and moral problem that will be addressed for the first time not only in Russia. In Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Germany, more than 30 power units will be decommissioned, which are shut down or are close to developing their design resource.

It is advisable to organize a Baltic conference on the exchange of experience in the safe decommissioning of nuclear power plants with the participation of nuclear experts and environmentalists, authorities and the public. We need to find a common «Baltic approach» to assess the security and protection of our common Baltic Home.

Mr. Haavisto received analytical reports “Conclusion of public expertise on the “Concept of decommissioning power units of the Leningrad NPP with RBMK-1000 reactors” (Rus.) , as well as “Radioactive Graphite Handling in Decommissioning of RBMK-Type Reactors» (Eng.) 


  1. It is necessary to accelerate the implementation of marine spatial planning (MSP), so that when making decisions on the location of industrial and infrastructure projects on the shores of the Baltic, recreation zones and specially protected natural areas do not suffer.

On the Russian southern coast of the Gulf of Finland, industrialization has undermined the reproduction of renewable fish resources — a national treasure of Russia. Industrial fishing ceased. Four fish processing plants were closed. The traditional way of life of the indigenous population associated with fishing and fish processing has been destroyed, and thousands of jobs associated with this industry have disappeared.

In St. Petersburg and on the Baltic coast, which recently exported fish, they now bring fish from Kamchatka and other places thousands of kilometers away.

Similar problems exist in neighboring Finland and Estonia (Rus.)

It is important to jointly seek a solution to these problems for all interested parties: government, business and the interested public with the participation of the expert community.

The nearest opportunity to discuss this common for the Baltic region countries will be in St. Petersburg at the “Baltic Sea Days” (Eng.), where a round table discussion on MSP is planned.


  1. Stop the confrontation between Russia and NATO and the militarization of the Baltic region.

NATO approached Russia’s borders. The use of nuclear weapons against Russia in the Kaliningrad region is possible

The conduct of hostilities on the Baltic coast, where more than 30 nuclear power plants are located in Russia, Finland and other countries, can lead to their destruction. This could mean the collapse of traditional lifestyles for 90 million people in 9 countries.

The efforts of citizens and regional politicians in the cross-border regions of Russia, Finland, Estonia and other Baltic countries are needed to prevent such a scenario. Neighbors in the common Baltic House should not be enemies!

We need community groups on both sides of borders to promote a world balanced with the nature of development.

Ulla Klotzer (NGO Women for Peace in Finland) announced a public call to establish a “Ministry for Peace and Sustainable Development” in her country. It would be great if such a ministry appeared not only in Finland and Russia, but also in all the countries of the Baltic region.

The very warm atmosphere of the meeting with Minister Pekka Haavisto demonstrated the great interest of Finnish politicians to expand the circle of traditional contacts by including not only national-level politicians, but also those who live in the immediate vicinity of the Russian-Finnish border.

This is not something new in the format of discussion of Finnish partners. During the Russian-Finnish conference in St. Petersburg “Our Common Environment St. Petersburg 1992”, when Pekka Haavisto, the leader of the Green Party of Finland, was one of the creators of this atmosphere of trust and openness during the discussion.

Photo: Greenworld studio, 2014