Finns and Finland should not forget the main theme of the centenary independence celebrations ‘together’ after the year of commemoration, says President Sauli Niinistö.
“The clear message of the centenary year was that Finland’s course has been successful, and that this is a good path to take into the future. The theme of the centenary year was ‘together’; this was seen as the secret of our success and also the key to our future,” he stated in his speech on New Year’s Day.
“There is diversity, people have different backgrounds, convictions and goals, we have a right to disagree. This is something we must be able to respect, however differently we ourselves might think.”
He also broached on a number of more topical issues.
The Finnish economy, he said, may have returned to a strong growth path but has yet to reach the levels preceding the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008. The growth, however, has not been the only driver of public and private consumption as stimulus measures adopted by central banks have made loans more readily available.
“We must now note that our indebted economy is also very dependent on the policy of major central banks,” said Niinistö.
“The warning that abundant funding has been channelled into increased debts and asset values is well founded. Tighter monetary policy, which is inevitable in the world at some stage, will lead to a more challenging situation. Reasonable caution is now called for.”
He pointed out that technological advances are creating entirely new industrial sectors and moulding the very nature of work. Finland must according to him do its utmost not only to keep step with the development but also to foster the know-how required to become a global leader in the development.
Niinistö stated that the upheavals taking place all around the world also affect the foreign and security policy situation of Finland. North Korea’s escalating armaments development, for example, has added to an already lengthy list of security threats.
Such developments, he said, are discussed and regulated increasingly by the major powers of China, Russia and the United States but decreasingly by the likes of the European Union and United Nations.
“Of course, dialogue between major powers is a good thing,” Niinistö admitted, adding that there seems to be room also for small mediators. “Finland is more than pleased to provide good services when required. Finland is also active in supporting stability and dialogue in the Baltic Sea area, Arctic areas and also globally.”
“But as far as we are concerned, the problem is the missing seats: the EU has remained on the sidelines and the role of the UN seems to be diminishing.”
Niinistö also reminded that climate change is not a matter of opinion but a real threat – a realisation that came too late for many and would have come even later had it not been for those sounding the alarm bells.
“Now is the time to act, not at the normal pace, but quickly. We are running behind.”
Finland, he added, is ready to assume responsibility for combating climate change. The country has increased its international climate funding and remains committed to the objectives laid out in the Paris Agreement. The domestic technology industry, additionally, is doing its part by developing sustainable solutions.
“Each of us must assume and take responsibility; our way of life is resulting in a critical burden on our [planet]. The world does not exist solely for us, but for continuity. It is ours to safeguard and pass on.”
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Jussi Nukari – Lehtikuva