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Finland takes over EU presidency

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Finland takes over EU presidency

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The EU presidency moves north today with Finland taking over the bloc’s hot seat from Austria. The role is taken on by each of the Union’s 25 members for a six month period. During its stint at the helm the Finnish government has identified boosting energy cooperation with Russia and the EU’s economic competitiveness as priorities.

The EU will have three summits with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the coming months focusing mainly on energy security. Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen also hopes to advance the process of enlargement, particularly with regard to Turkey. He said he would regard it as a personal failure if Turkey’s EU accession talks were suspended on his watch because of a crisis over Cyprus.

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja says Turkey must fulfil its obligations. “We expect, everybody in the Union expects that Turkey will ratify the additional protocol otherwise it may have consequences, this is not a threat.” Each stage of the negotiations on Turkey requires the unanimous approval of the 25 states. No major breakthrough on the stalled European constitution is expected during the next six months, although Finland plans to ratify the text in October.