Finnish EU presidency main issues: Turkey, Russia

The European Union's membership talks with Turkey and its efforts to improve energy cooperation with Russia will be among the major issues of Finland's six-month presidency of the bloc, which starts this weekend. Finnish Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen said on Friday that he hoped his country's leadership would bring fresh air to the EU, currently in the doldrums. He vowed to offer "more transparency" to the EU to help it reconnect with its citizens, especially after France and the Netherlands voted last year to reject the bloc's constitution. Finnish officials said they would push more open access to EU minister's meetings, and public access to documents. "We believe we have a lot to give to the presidency," he told reporters. "The union is useful and necessary for its citizens. It must have a clear mandate, a clear legitimacy." This will be Finland's second turn as EU president, since it joined in 1995. Its 1999 chairmanship saw the EU declare Turkey an official candidate and open talks with Romania and Bulgaria.