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Goff Northern Europe Visit April 17-29

Hon Phil Goff
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Media Statement

17 April 2001


Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff leaves today for a 12-day visit encompassing Finland, Russia, Turkey and Sweden.

Mr Goff will meet with Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja. The visit will reflect the frequent cooperation in international forums and similarities in population size and values between the two nations. He will also meet with Justice Minister Johannes Koskinen to discuss how Finland has achieved a dramatic fall in imprisonment rates.

The Russian leg of the trip will see Mr Goff meet with Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. Issues such as Chechnya and Russia's views on disarmament and National Missile Defence will be among topics on the agenda. He will also be meeting with Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade, German Gref and with Russian business people.

"Russia for the first time in its history is operating a democratic system. With the Cold War behind us, we should be enhancing our links with this huge country. As Russia's economy recovers after their economic crisis in the late 1990's, there will be new opportunities to develop bilateral trade.

"I will also express New Zealand's concerns over human rights abuses by both sides in the Chechnya conflict. I will be checking on the progress Russian authorities are making since the capture of a Chechen militant who is suspected of being involved in the abduction and brutal murder of New Zealander Stan Shaw in 1998," Mr Goff said.

The Minister will also take part in a wreath-laying ceremony in Moscow to remember the New Zealanders and Russians who died in the Northern Convoys during World War II.

"The Convoys were an integral part of the survival story of Russia during the war. Several hundred New Zealanders served in the Convoys and in the armed services which protected them. Their contribution, which often took them to the limits of human endurance, should not be forgotten. It is also an opportunity to remember the estimated 20 million Russians who were killed during the course of World War II," said Mr Goff.

Mr Goff will represent New Zealand at this years ANZAC day commemorations at Gallipoli where he will attend seven ceremonies including speaking at the ANZAC Dawn Service, the Turkish Service and the New Zealand Service at Chunuk Bair.

Sweden currently holds the Presidency of the European Union and Mr Goff will engage in the six-monthly Ministerial Consultation with the EU during his visit there. Issues of climate change and the Kyoto Protocol, BSE and foot and mouth, and the WTO are among topics which will be discussed.

"The European Union is New Zealand's second largest export destination after Australia. In addition to trade issues, I will be impressing on the EU the importance of maintaining their engagement in the South Pacific in areas such as East Timor and Fiji," the Minister said.


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