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Culture news, 14.12.2004 17:38

Finnish-Russian Friendship Book Presented

Finland Seppo Sarlund's book, "Notes from Under the Political Table," is about the friendship between Finland and Russia, which the author's life is a symbol of, was presented at the Russian Center of Science and Culture in the capital of Finland.

The author said his book was "a true narrative of how we lived from the postwar period [after World War II] until the present in the spirit of the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line, following a policy of compromise between Finland and the Soviet Union, and then Russia."

Mr. Sarlund has been the chairman of the Council of Commissioners of the Finland-Russia Friendship Society for many years. "For more than 40 years," he said, "I have actively made contact with representatives of different countries, above all, with the Russians, in Finland. It became my hobby and I will continue doing it until the world interests me. I would not change a single day in the years I have devoted to my work in the Friendship Society in cooperation with my Russian colleagues."

Speaking about relations between Finland and Russia, Mr. Sarlund said the most important aspect for him was that "we can always find mutual understanding with Russia despite the fact that the way of solving world problems can be different.

"The better our relations with the east, the better they are with the west. We must be confident that there is no deception behind our backs."

Mr. Sarlund said he was against the current stance of many Finnish journalists who publish scandalous articles and write about sensational rumors, but do not cover real political events and discussions, including events and discussions relating to Russia.

He said he supported Finnish President Tarja Halonen policies to create a dialogue and cooperation with Russia. Mr. Sarlund said he hoped that the meeting between the Russian and Finnish presidents in St. Petersburg would be another step in this direction.

"For me," he said, "contacts and dialogue with the Russians have always been and will remain as natural as with others, often even easier because they [Russians] understand the northern problems ... the border between Finland and Russia must not become a border between military blocs."

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