Finnish ambassador to Russia argues that no need to sign Helsinki-Moscow agreement on children

Helsinki has not refused to sign a bilateral agreement on the protection of children with Moscow, Finnish Ambassador to Russia Hannu Himanen said at a press conference on Friday.

"It would be wrong to say that Finland refuses to sign a bilateral agreement. We have a whole range of bilateral agreements that could be applied in different situations, including an agreement on cooperation in consular issues," Himanen said.

Finnish consular officials serving at the Russian Embassy and Russian citizens who work in Finland can help their citizens in accordance with this document, he said.

Helsinki sees no need to form a bilateral commission on family affairs with Moscow either, the ambassador said.

Himanen also said he was not aware of any steps to draft a Russian-Finnish agreement on children's protection.

"Such an agreement does not exist today. At least, I am not aware of the Russian and Finnish sides' announcement of the creation of such an agreement," he said.

"All problems should be tackled through more vigorous cooperation between Russia and Finland," he said.

Russian children's rights commissioner Pavel Astakhov said at the end of September that Russia had always offered Finland cooperation and support as part of measures to protect children's rights, but Finland had refused to hold any negotiations or draft agreements.

Children have been taken away from their Russian mothers in Finland recently.

Thirty-six Russian-Finnish families have informed the Russian Embassy since the beginning of the year that their children have been taken away by Finland's social services, the Russian Mothers International Movement told Interfax.

On Thursday, Finnish President Sauli Niiniste announced his readiness to discuss "the child conflict" with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin.

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