The main news of last week is unclear to no one – meeting of two big leaders in Finland has been the headline of every newspaper. The world awaited president Trump and president Putin to meet with high hopes. For the sake of security and stability of our lives it is extremely important to have big leaders at the same table. There are several opinions whether the meeting between president Putin and president Trump was a success or not. However, one can safely say that for Finland this meeting was a success. It has been viewed that these couple of days were certainly a PR win: In a punctual Finnish way, everything was well organized and on time (at least everything that was dependent on the host country).
Even though the focus was undoubtedly on president Putin and president Trump, Finland got several positive remarks for its organizing skills. On the president breakfast, which was held between Mr. Trump and the president of Finland Mr. Niinistö, Mr. Trump was highly appreciating the “fantastic” hospitality Finland was showing. This meeting definitely did strengthen Finland´s public appearance of a trustworthy international summit organizer.
After the information about the arrangement of the meeting in Finland was announced there have been debates on why Finland was chosen as the meeting place. Even though at the current moment we can not come up with any definite answer (surely, we can read the answer from the future biographies of today´s leaders), we can highlight at least three important reasons that definitely had an impact. Firstly, the geography of Finland played a big role. The last football game was held in Moscow just the evening before the big meeting and it was important that the meeting would take place somewhere relatively close to Moscow so that president Putin would be able to attend the meeting. Also, as president Trump was attending the NATO summit and visiting the UK, it was practical to arrange the meeting in Europe. Secondly, the history of Finland hosting high-level meetings played a big role. Meeting on 16th of July was already sixth of its kind. Finland has been the meeting place for Russia´s (and the former Soviet Union) and USA´s leaders six successful times before. Third reason could be the skilled foreign policy of Finnish president Niinistö, which has maintained good relations with both parties of the summit – Russia and USA. To sum it up, Finland in average provides a calm and coherent atmosphere for stormy meetings and as it is not in the center of the world, there are not so much hassle going on interrupting the attention from the main issues.
A lot of effort was put into this meeting in a short period of time. Not every country would have been able to put out a meeting of this size within this time frame. The entire city of Helsinki was holding its breath the day presidents were supposed to have their meeting. The traffic was adjusted and partially stopped. The Finnish police force was making a real effort to put this event together so that everything would go smoothly as planned. The result was a successful, and everything went very well. All the guests were content with the welcoming host.
It might be that, at least if one asks the journalists, this is not the last time summits will be arranged in Finland. Not only the press center was nominated as the happiest in the world, but also surprisingly sweet strawberries and sauna situated in the yard of the press house gained popularity among the satisfied journalists.
I think it can be boldly said that Finland is a trustworthy and efficient collaborator and has shown its competence to function under the pressure. As president Niinistö said – “keep it simple” and things will proceed little by little forward. So far, this quote seems to be working!
Written by Miila Leisiö.