The European Union must do its utmost to remain an integral part of international efforts to tackle instability and resolve crises, President Sauli Niinistö stated in his New Year's Speech.
The European Union, he estimated, has begun to lose its clout in international politics, as evidenced by speculation that Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin are holding bilateral talks concerning the future of Europe and by the peace agreement that is reportedly being brokered in Syria by Russia and Turkey.
“The EU cannot be absent from the negotiation tables where decisions about the future are made,” he stressed.
The focus must now be turned to what is of great significance to all Europeans – to peace and security, said Niinistö. The European Union, he estimated, is currently needed more than it has been in decades, as its fundamental values of democracy, equality and human rights are being called into question also within its borders.
Niinistö acknowledged that the threat of terrorism, fear of war and forces of migration will continue to create uncertainty in Europe but underscored that the continent must remain united in the face of such challenges. The influx of asylum seekers in 2015, he reminded, resulted in some member states turning against each other and seeking the odd benefit at the expense of others. Such actions will only erode unity and ultimately also turn against the initial beneficiary, according to him.
“The EU is only as strong as its weakest link,” he stated.
The President also called attention to the position of Finland as part of the West. Finland, he said, has sought to promote well-being and build peace but may have neglected to ask how it should prepare against evil.
“Our constitution provides good protection for the fundamental rights of the individual. But now we are facing some very difficult questions: what should we do in a situation where we have to weigh collective safety against rights of the individual?” he asked. “Evil must of course be opposed with good. But we must set limits to evil. We also need to be strong and resolute.”
Niinistö expressed his delight with the growing willingness to develop defence co-operation within the European Union.
Terrorism, he pointed out, is a common enemy to everyone regardless of their country of residence. The key to combating such evil is the efficient gathering and sharing of information and the promotion of flexible co-operation between the authorities of different countries.
“Action is needed from the EU,” he said.
He also proposed two themes for the centenary year of independence in Finland: “One key message of a one-hundred-year-old Finland could well be: You will do well if no one is doing badly. So help as much as you can. Another message could be: Take reasonable responsibility, at least of yourself. That is, do what you are capable of,” viewed Niinistö.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi