In a joint news conference at the White House with President Sauli Niinistö of Finland on Monday, President Trump began by acknowledging the fact that the people of Finland recently suffered a terrorist attack in Turku on August 18.
The deadly knife attack is being called the country’s first potential terrorism-related attack. A Moroccan man was shot and arrested after he allegedly killed two women and stabbed six others in a knife rampage. The 18-year old suspect was an asylum seeker, according to reports. He reportedly targeted women, as he repeatedly attacked unsuspecting people with a knife in the city of Turku.
“It seems that the suspect chose women as his targets,” said Crista Granroth from the National Bureau of Investigation. She said the men who were wounded only received injuries because they tried to help others or prevent the attacker, not because they were targeted.
“We stand in solidarity with you against the terrorist threat,” Trump told Niinistö during the press conference Monday. “We must all work together to deny terrorists safe havens, cut off their finances, and defeat their very wicked ideology.”
Trump said that he hopes for a peaceable outcome in Afghanistan, pointing out that Finland has been involved in Afghanistan’s efforts to defeat ISIS through providing troops and financial aid.
“Mr. President, Americans are grateful for your steadfast support as an ally in the fight against terrorism,” Trump told Niinistö, adding, “Finland makes important contributions to the coalition and its effort in Afghanistan, and has troops on the ground in Iraq training Iraqi soldiers.”
He went on to explain, “In Afghanistan, Finland provides troops and financial contributions to support the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces on a modern-day frontier between barbarism and civilization. That’s what you have — it’s barbarism versus civilization. We are particularly grateful to the Finnish citizens who have sacrificed for our mutual security.”
Finland is a leading expert in cybersecurity, President Trump pointed out, noting that the U.S. is working on improving its own cybersecurity. “In fact, we should be calling you pretty soon. You do do a fantastic job with cybersecurity, and I congratulate you. And I think in a very short period of time, we’re going to be right there with you, believe me. The United States is a very proud partner of Finland’s European Center of Excellence to counter modern threats, including cyberattacks.”
Trump also spoke about the Arctic Council; a high-level intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by the Arctic governments and the indigenous people of the Arctic. Eight member countries constitute the council: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden, and the United States, as these are the eight countries with sovereignty over the lands within the Arctic Circle. Outside of these there are some observer states.
Finland took the chairmanship of the Arctic Council from the United States in May. “We can’t afford losing the pristine Arctic nature,” said Niinistö. “Finland firmly believes that business and environment can both be winners in the Arctic.”
“The Arctic region has strategic and economic importance for both of our nations,” stated Trump, adding, “The foundation of our friendship is our shared love of freedom. On behalf of all Americans, I congratulate you and the Finnish people on the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence — 100 years. Fantastic.”
In honor of Finland’s centennial, President Trump announced that the United States is contributing an additional half-million dollars to the Fulbright Finland Foundation. “Through the Fulbright program, we are sending more of our best and brightest to Finland, forging lasting connections between Americans and Finns,” he said, adding, “On the economic front, we seek fair and reciprocal trade to benefit both of our countries. I applaud Finnish companies for their commitment to increase investment in the United States, adding new technologies and adding good jobs for hardworking Americans.”
Both men spoke about the Hurricane wreaking havoc down in Texas and Louisiana. According to Niinistö, the people of Finland have been following the storm’s effects on the region and he noted that everyone is impressed with the way Americans are dealing with the devastation; and how they’re helping each other. “Our thoughts are with the people of Texas and Louisiana. They and you, Mr. President, have shown strength and courage to overcome this catastrophe. It has been touching to watch the TV and see how people help each other. That is what we basically are built of — helping each other.”
After he thanked President Trump for the gift he presented to the Fulbright Finland Foundation, Niinistö took a moment to address the nearly 700,000 Americans who have Finnish origin, stating that he and Trump discussed the importance of the transatlantic bond between the European Union and the United States. “History has taught us Europeans the value of unity,” he noted.
Questioned by reporters regarding cleaning up the Arctic and doing it together with the United States, Niinistö, answered, “We discussed a lot about black carbon. And to explain to everybody: What happens is that, from atmosphere, black carbon covers the Arctic, and we know what happens when sunshine meets black. It melts the ice. And the problem is not only Arctic; if we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe. That is reality.”
He emphasized that the fight is against those emissions spreading black carbon. “I understood that the United States is going to put it in half, and we know that black carbon sources are a lot of them in Russia,” explained the Finnish president. “They are old-fashioned energy plants producing heating. The other problem is flaring. You know that in oil fields, they flare up the extra gas, and the amount is huge. Yearly, they flare 40 times more than Finland spent gas.”
To that end, Niinistö noted that a good business move would be to “renew those old-fashioned plants, to make more with less energy; to stop flaring,” he said, adding that he’s looking forward to working on the issue through the Arctic Council. “We have inherited the chairmanship from the United States, and we continue the work.”