Jacinda Ardern had a pointed answer for a reporter who questioned why she and Finland Prime Minister Sanna Marin were meeting.
Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, held a joint press conference with Marin, the world’s youngest Prime Minister, on Wednesday.
During the briefing one reporter said, “A lot of people will be wondering: Are you two meeting just because you’re similar in age and got a lot of common stuff there, when you got into politics and stuff…?”
Calling out the question, Ardern replied with one of her own.
“My first question is, I wonder whether or not anyone ever asked Barack Obama and John Key if they met because they were of similar age?” she said. “We, of course, have a higher proportion of men in politics. It’s reality. Because two women meet, it’s not simply because of their gender.”
Ardern, 42, then noted that Finland “exports into New Zealand NZ$199 million worth of exports.”
She went on to salute the country for being a go-to for technology as the home of Nokia as well as a hub for biofuels and everyday hardware like elevators. Ardern added that “a large number of” elevators in New Zealand come from Finland.
She shared that New Zealand typically trades NZ$14 million, with a majority being in the wine and beef industries.
“There is huge potential between us,” Ardern said of New Zealand and Finland. “The [European Union Free Trade Agreement] is a launch pad for that.”
She suggested that her union with Marin was a way for their nations to do more than “go through the motions of an FTA ratification” and to “build on that economic agreement.”
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Ardern said her hope is to grow the FTA and to “leverage the economic opportunities between our two countries.”
Added Ardern: “Little would be known about the depth of that relationship or the potential of it. But it’s our job to further it, regardless of our gender.”
Marin then reiterated Ardern’s remarks.
“We are meeting because we are prime ministers, of course,” Marin said. “But as Jacinda said, we have a business delegation with us. We have a lot of things in common but also a lot of things where we can do much more together.”
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She also echoed Ardern’s sentiment about joining together for stronger technology opportunities, stating, “I really worry about the dependencies that we have right now on authoritarian countries when it comes to new technologies … We have to make sure that we are not building the same traps when it comes to new technologies and digital solutions that we have right now in Europe when it comes to energy from Russia.”
She concluded by stating the importance of “cooperation” between “democratic countries.”
Marin’s comments come months after she faced criticism for dancing at a party.
“I’m disappointed that they’ve become public,” Marin, 37, said of the videos of her, according to Sky News, which cited Finnish broadcaster YLE. “I spent the evening with friends. Partied, pretty wild, yes. Danced and sang.”
She was adamant that she has nothing “to conceal or hide” and said she will conduct herself as she always has since becoming prime minister.