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Finnish foreign minister hopes India will be more vocal on Ukraine war

Finland’s foreign minister Elina Valtonen on Thursday called upon India to play a larger role in the ongoing Ukraine war, which started 2 years ago, and act in defence of the values enshrined in the United Nations Charter.

“We would hope that India as the world’s largest democracy would take a clear role in this (the Ukraine war) and that would be to protect the basic values we share and the UN Charter’” Valtonen told Mint.

“If an innocent country is attacked from outside by a much bigger power, then it’s not a neutral conflict. India could be a little bit more vocal in stating facts as they are. I’m pretty sure that India, just like ourselves, is very worried about the increasing cooperation between Russia and China,” she said.

India has avoided condemning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. While it has sent humanitarian aid to Ukraine, it has refrained from being an active backer of the West’s sanctions campaign against Russia. However, senior political and diplomatic figures in Europe have argued that the conflict in Ukraine has consequences for Asia and countries like India.

“In the end, Ukraine is not a European war. It’s a war of values. And if we don’t stand up for the UN Charter now, this will probably embolden other actors, say, here in Asia, to destabilize or try to redraw maps of something which should be a thing of the past and not a thing of the present,” Valtonen told Mint on the sidelines of the Raisina Dialogue 2024 in New Delhi.

She added that India-Finland ties are as important as they have ever been, with closer links forged by innovation and people-to-people ties. In 2023, Finland unveiled the DESI initiative to boost ties with India with a focus on digitalisation, education, sustainability and innovation.

Valtonen pointed out that Finland’s concerns on China have created an opportunity for India to benefit.

“We do have concerns about China and because of the fact that China does not adhere to the same value base that we do when it comes to democracy, rule of law and human rights. So therefore, we do have issues with China. Of course, we have plenty of trade and this goes for all European Union countries. And we are not looking to completely exit the trade. But what we are looking to do is to de-risk and to diversify. And especially in linkage to this, there’s tremendous opportunities for India,” she added.

Annual bilateral trade between India and Finland has stood at $1.5-2 billion.

“I think if India clearly took the stance of being on the side of the rule of law, the rules-based world order, and democracy, that will help the business side as well. That would send a signal, that we really do care about values…we do respect the rules, which are governing the world. It would send the business world the signal that this is the place we should be investing,” she said.

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Published: 22 Feb 2024, 11:43 PM IST

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