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President Sauli Niinistö greeted the public from the balcony of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on 1 February, 2018.
President Sauli Niinistö greeted the public from the balcony of the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on 1 February, 2018.

 

Mitigating climate change will be the single most important challenge we will face in the years to come, says President Sauli Niinistö.

“It is a fact that humanity cannot afford to lose our planet. For a long time people thought that there is unlimited room up there in the atmosphere, as tens of billions of tonnes of carbon dioxide ends up there every year. It is getting cramped, and it shows,” he said in his inauguration speech on Thursday.

Niinistö pointed out that crises place enormous demands on the international community at a time when geopolitical interests seem to be outweighing the desire for peace and reducing the likelihood of succeeding with traditional peace building processes.

“Few of the crises in this decade have been solved,” he reminded.

He estimated that there are two ways to address the situation: strengthening organisations such as the United Nations and European Union, and fostering dialogue between the east and the west.

“The EU is an organisation with plenty of desire for peace, but it continues to punch below its weight. We need a union which is also a security community with a unified voice that is heard. Finland has an active role in this, we are not a mere observer,” told Niinistö.

The dialogue between the east and the west, he underlined, should not be limited to Nato, the United States and Russia, but it should also include the European Union and China. “Maintaining dialogue is the first step towards building peace,” he said.

While the primary focus of his speech was on global issues, he also drew attention to the importance of fostering an inclusive society in Finland. “Hearing and listening to each other is valuable. We need different viewpoints and opinions. And, most of all, we also need to appreciate people who think differently,” stated Niinistö.

Niinistö was re-elected as the President of the Republic of Finland on Sunday, 28 January, after winning 62.7 per cent of the over 2.9 million votes cast in the elections.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Markku Ulander – Lehtikuva

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