Latvia and Finland talk trees and much else

The Prime Minister of Latvia Māris Kučinskis visited Helsinki on May 12 at the invitation of Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. As well as bilateral relations between the countries and regional cooperation, in particular, energy security and the progress of the Rail Baltica project. They also talked about the symbolism of trees.

"The meeting started by honouring Finland 100 - the centenary of Finland’s independence. The Prime Ministers participated in a Finland 100 jubilee forest planting ceremony in Paloheinä, Helsinki, where they planted a seedling of a Spruce of the Future," said the Finnish government's press office.

"The symbolic meaning of the trees was also discussed," the release added.

Prime Minister Sipilä "expressed his concern about the way the land use sector is proposed to be included in the climate policy of the EU. Finland is particularly worried about the way forests are to be handled," the release said, while noting that as another "forested country" Latvia's viewpoint was similar to Finland's.

There were also encouraging signs on the joint Rail Baltica project of the Baltic countries, Poland and Finland.

“After the somewhat slow start, the Rail Baltica project must be implemented in a comprehensive way as a single project so that the rail connection will be built as soon as possible, at reasonable cost, and with the best available resources,” Sipilä said. 

The Latvian side's account of the meeting unfortunately failed to mention the symbolic tree discussion, focusing instead on Kučinskis' attempts to woo Finnish investment. Around 400 Finnish-based companies are currently active in Latvia.

He touted reforms to the tax system which have just been agreed under which there will be zero per cent income tax on reinvested earnings and stressed the government's work in reducing the shadow economy and improving banking supervision: "At the moment Latvia is doing everything it can to prevent unfair competition in order to ensure that all investors have equal working conditions " said the Prime Minister.

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