“A new page in relations”

Cross-border relations with Finland is a top priority for new governor Aleksandr Khudilainen. Photo:

Cooperation between Finland and the Republic of Karelia enters a new and more active phase, Governor Aleksandr Khudilainen says after his official visit to Helsinki.


The Russian regional leader, himself a Finnish-speaker, last week spent three days in the Finnish capital, and met with President Sauli Niinistö, as well as with members of Parliament and business representatives. The Russian delegation included representative of the regional executive and legislative branches of power, as well as representatives of border municipalities, a press release reads.

“We know in which direction to move, which projects that can be implemented between the sides,” Khudilainen said. “The interest [in Finland] towards Karelia is significant and it is now up to us to justify this interest and meet the expectations of the Finnish side”, he added. According to the governor, his region is now preparing a set of measures, which is to help improve investment climate. Among the measures is the establishment of a new investment fund

According to Khudilainen, the Finnish president “supported all the ideas” that was presented by the Russian side in the meetings. President Niinistö reportedly also suggested to introduce a system of regular meetings between the two leaders.

As previously reported, Finnish industrial companies now eye enhanced trade opportunities with Russia following the latter’s inclusion in the WTO.

Aleksandr Khudilainen was appointed governor of the Republic of Karelia in late May this year. In a newspaper interview, the new governor said that “I am a pure Finn, in the tenth generation and I speak the language since childhood”. Khudilainen has his family ancestry from the Ingrian people, a minority of ethnical Finns living in the area since the 17 century.