Finnish prime minister Juha Sipilä talks Rail Baltica in Rīga

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Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä paid a visit to Latvia March 7 as part of a whistlestop tour of the Baltic states and his personal goal of visiting as many countries as possible while in office.

A meeting with his Latvian counterpart Krišjānis Kariņš in Rīga saw the pair discussing a range of topics including regional security, European Union budget plans and the two countries' involvement in the Rail Baltica infrastructure project.

"For Latvia and I think also for Finland, the Rail Baltica project is of the utmost importance... we're still rather isolated and this project would end the isolation, be very, very good for business, for the exporting sector and for tourism as well, going both ways," said Kariņš.

"This project is a rather expensive project and it's expensive relative to the size of the economies in the Baltics. so what's of utmost importance is that we secure the proper EU funding for the project," he added.

"Our own funding in the Baltics, if it were left up to national envelopes from the cohesion monies, would simply not be enough," he admitted, "so we're extremely happy not only that the new head of RB Rail is a Finn but that the Finnish government is joining and we think this is a great partnership."

"It will be the single biggest investment project in the Baltics in the last 20 years and we will make it happen," Kariņš stated.


"One big future cooperation, I hope, will be Rail Baltica, which we decided to join two weeks ago in Finland," Sipilä told reporters.

"We have now decided to invest 2 million euros to the [Finnish railway] company, but of course we have to start the negotiations about the shareholders' agreement and others before joining the company," he added, "but this is a start and someday we will also have a tunnel between Helsinki and Tallinn which is a part of this very fast connection."

Indeed the Finnish PM would appear to be a prime target for some future Rail Baltica advertising campaign as he revealed that he is himself a keen traveller, counting countries as he passes through them.

"I have been travelling all over Europe now. This is my 23rd visit to my colleagues. I will meet [later] today my Estonian colleague and next week my Luxembourg colleague so there will be two left after that," Sipilä said.


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