President Sauli Niinistö conversed with the Serbian Ambassador to Finland, Sasa Obradovic, during a dinner the president hosted for the diplomatic corps at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Thursday, 11 May 2023. (Roni Rekomaa – Lehtikuva)


PRESIDENT Sauli Niinistö hosted a dinner for the diplomatic corps at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Thursday, marking the first such gathering in four years due to the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ukraine, he underscored in his speech, deserves broad international support not only for its rightful efforts to defend itself on the battlefield, but also for its search for a sustainable way out of the war.

“A just peace can only be one that it acceptable to Ukraine, at a moment that is acceptable for Ukraine,” he stated. “Under those terms, we must already now have the courage to speak about peace, too. Not about Ukraine, not without Ukraine. But with Ukraine.”

Niinistö said Europe has been faced with the inconceivable return of full-scale war for more than a year, but the war has also brought the continent more together to provide substantial military and non-military assistance to Ukraine.

“This support of ours, as Ukraine fights for its freedom, sovereignty and territorial integrity remains unwavering, for as long as needed,” he stressed.

He stated that the war is a severe violation of international law and the entire international rules-based order. It is not merely a concern for the West, but a global tragedy that – he said – should unite rather than divide us.

“Devastating wars are waged elsewhere, too, and many lower-intensity conflicts continue to simmer across the world. Climate change and biodiversity loss are advancing at an increasingly dangerous pace. Extreme poverty is far from eradicated, and inflation and the rise in the cost of living affect even the most affluent countries. Rapidly emerging food and energy crises do not respect national borders,” he reminded.

The global community, he added, faces the daunting task of achieving unity at a time of division, defending international institutions at a time of fierce geopolitical competition and striving for peace at a time of war.

“These are tall orders,” acknowledged Niinistö. “They require a genuine willingness from us to engage with each other. Not just with those who already share the same views. But above all with those who see the world in a different way.”

Aleksi Teivainen – HT