President Alexander Stubb smiled during a post-inauguration press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on Friday, 1 March 2024. Stubb outlined that Finnish foreign and security policy will be founded on value-based realism. (Emmi Korhonen – Lehtikuva)

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“FINNISH foreign and security policy will be founded on value-based realism,” President Alexander Stubb outlined in his inaugural address to parliament on Friday, 1 March, reports Helsingin Sanomat.

He added that value-based realism stems, on the one hand, from a strong alliance with both Nato and the European Union and, on the other, from confidence that reforming and strengthening the UN remains the bedrock of international peace and system.

“The cornerstones of our foreign policy have been built from western values such as democracy, rule of law and human rights. We believe in co-operation and international rules-based order,” he was quoted saying by the newspaper. “At the same time, our security policy is founded on realism. That’s why we’ll maintain a strong defence – now as part of an alliance. Realism also entails recognising that our world’s great challenges can’t be solved only with countries that agree with us.”

Stubb, who began his tenure as the 13th president of Finland on Friday, commented on a handful of topical issues in a press conference held after the inauguration.

He said he was pleased to see reportedly thousands of mourners gather in Moscow to bid farewell to Alexei Navalny, the late opposition leader who was the most prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny died in an Arctic prison on 16 February.

Stubb reiterated that he condemns the “political murder”: “Navalny’s death is a kind of symbol of the current state of Russia. Human lives no longer seem to matter at all for the Russian leadership. People can be killed, removed without a shrug of the shoulders.”

He was also asked about the latest developments in the war in Gaza. On Friday, several news outlets reported that Israeli troops opened fire at people lining up for humanitarian aid, leaving more than a hundred Gazans dead and several hundred injured. The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said the troops opened fire because Gazans were threatening troops overseeing the distribution of aid.

Stubb on Friday said some of the details remain unknown.

“In a sense it shows the brutality of the war that people are experiencing right now,” he remarked, pointing to estimates that over 30,000 people have died in Gaza since 7 October 2023, when an attack by the terror group Hamas left over 1,100 people dead in Israel.

The IDF launched a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip on 27 October, after weeks of aerial bombardment, with the stated goal of eliminating Hamas.

Stubb said Finland will do whatever it can to restore peace in the region. The country, he added, is also prepared to discuss deploying peacekeepers to the area if a ceasefire or peace agreement is reached.

Reports that emerged over the weekend suggest that a six-week ceasefire deal could be imminent.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

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