EMBARGOED: Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the closing of the electoral period on 29 March 2023


Free for publication on 29 March 2023 at 14 hrs 15 Finnish time

Check against delivery

Mr Speaker, honoured representatives of the Finnish nation

“There are two kinds of forecasters: those who don't know, and those who don't know they don't know.” We can probably share this thought. When, in spring 2019, we started this electoral period we are about to close, no one knew what we had ahead of us. We got a lot, even way too much: Covid-19 and war.

I want to extend my thanks to you, honoured Members of Parliament. You have been going through hard times again and again. But in retrospect, patience or reason have not been lost at any point. Democracy has worked also under quite exceptional circumstances. The period of Covid-19 restrictions must have required both creativity and flexibility to guarantee the functioning of Parliament.

I highly appreciate the meetings we have had with various parliamentary committees. During your term, we have held approximately thirty meetings in all. You have politely thanked me for these encounters and said that you value them. I have responded to you then I am responding now, and not just out of politeness, that for me these meetings have often meant mutual sharing of ideas and given me strength for my duties.

The message Finland is sending to the world is that we are a well-functioning democracy. The strength and viability of democracy –that is what we witness and demonstrate both in elections and between them. This is the message I intend to emphasise later today in the Summit for Democracy, hosted online by the President of the United States, Joe Biden.

* * *

This Parliament will go down in history for having applied for NATO membership and for adopting it. It was extremely important that the whole Parliament was fully informed and given a clear understanding of what taking that step means. And that we took that step together.

Finland did its own share for the NATO membership from start to finish during this electoral period. Now, in the light of the last ratification processes, it seems that the new Parliament will start its work in a NATO member state.

Through our NATO membership, Finland maximises its own security. At the same time, we are for our own part responsible for the security of the Alliance. This is without detriment to anyone. Security does not need to be a zero-sum game.

We should also keep in mind that joining NATO does not make Finland bigger than it is. The membership brings considerable security, but it is not all-encompassing. The strong Finnish will continues to be needed. The will to live in peace, and the will to hold on to what is ours.

* * *

We are currently living geopolitically unpredictable, even dangerous times. The Russian war of aggression in Ukraine that has continued for more than a year is the most tangible indication of that. We also hear other news about tensions building up in international relations on a daily basis.

Under these circumstances, it is of utmost importance that like-minded democracies keep in close contact with each other. It is important because of our security and our values. And, in this respect, we have been very successful over the past year.

But we must not let the Western unity delude us. In speeches I have given, some of them here, I have often suspected that it may mislead our thinking if we believe that the views we hold and the competences we have are second to none. Among other things, they may make us take it for granted that others will follow our example. We, what is called the Western community, may comprise a few billion people. But what about the billions of others? How do we build our relationship with them?

The model of the world is changing. We do not yet know which position the relationship between the United States and China will take. It is clear that we cannot totally avoid conflicts between the great powers. But a strict division of the world in blocs cannot be in anyone's best interest, let alone an open confrontation between the blocs.

We must seek détente through things that unite us. The planet we live on is one and the same for all. If climate change and biodiversity loss get out of control, no one will win. It is to the detriment of all of us.

* * *

The full-scale war in Europe has left its mark on all of us. It has also hardened us, both our minds and the way we speak. Of course, firmness is something we need. We must continue our support for Ukraine. And we must also continue our determined efforts to strengthen and secure our own defence capability.

We cannot afford to be soft in times like this. However, hardness should not become an end in itself. The justified fight against evil must not lead to us becoming like evil ourselves. A desire for peace and mediation – these words do not enjoy high popularity in international relations at the moment. Of course, we must not be naive. But shouldn't a state of peace in the world be the objective, after all?

It is true for every war that, at the latest once the guns have finally gone silent, diplomacy is needed again – no matter how deep the division line to be bridged. Otherwise, no matter how hard the sacrifices required to attain peace, that peace will not last.

I want to emphasise that by this I do not refer to any sudden solution to the war in Ukraine. A just peace there can only be one which Ukraine itself considers justified. When the time comes, the international community must secure that this peace is a lasting one. At the moment, however, such a peace is nowhere in sight. We must be prepared for Ukraine’s defensive battle to continue for a long time to come.

* * *

The ongoing election campaign has been passionate and even sharp-tongued. Perhaps that is just a sign of the times. But in a multi-party system, it would be advisable to remember that no party can form the strong government we need on its own, not even with just one or two partners. And, particularly in a time like this, it is especially important to maintain readiness for quick collaboration right from the start of the new electoral period, even before the new government is formed. That is why it is good to keep the seeds of reconciliation ready.

Respecting the electoral peace belongs to the core of democracy. Hatred, threats or violence label and debase only those who resort to using them.

I will end my speech with what I started. After all, it is inevitable that the world will continue to develop in an unpredictable way. Even in domestic matters, we cannot avoid facing difficult choices.

In other words, we are again in a situation where we do not know what will happen next. We may get a lot; we may get too much. However, what we know from experience is that, if necessary, our democracy will carry us through even the hardest of times.

* * *

I would like to extend my thanks to Parliament for the valuable work you have done for our nation, and I hereby declare Parliament closed for the present electoral period.

About Tasavallan presidentin kanslia

Tasavallan presidentin kanslia
Tasavallan presidentin kanslia
Mariankatu 2
00170 Helsinki


Subscribe to releases from Tasavallan presidentin kanslia

Subscribe to all the latest releases from Tasavallan presidentin kanslia by registering your e-mail address below. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Latest releases from Tasavallan presidentin kanslia

President Niinistö to visit Brazil26.5.2023 16:05:00 EEST | Press release

Office of the President of the Republic of Finland Press release 20/2023 26 May 2023 President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö will make an official visit to Brazil on 1–2 June 2023. The visit will begin on Thursday 1 June with a meeting with President of Brazil Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in Brasília. In their discussions, the Presidents will address as the geopolitical situation, common global challenges, topical regional questions and the bilateral relations between Finland and Brazil. President Niinistö's programme will also include discussions with, among others, Veneziano Vital do Rêgo, First Vice President of the Federal Senate, and Arthur Lira, President of the Chamber of Deputies. On Friday 2 June, President Niinistö will visit São Paulo, where he will meet Tarcísio de Freitas, Governor of the State of São Paulo, and participate in a business event organised by the Federation of Industries of the State of São Paulo. The event will also be attended by representatives of

President Niinistö på besök till Brasilien26.5.2023 16:04:24 EEST | Tiedote

Republikens presidents kansli Pressmeddelande 20/2023 26.5.2023 Republikens president Sauli Niinistö avlägger ett officiellt besök i Brasilien den 1–2 juni 2023. Besöket inleds torsdagen den 1 juni med ett möte med Brasiliens president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva i Brasília. Presidenterna kommer att diskutera den geopolitiska situationen, gemensamma globala utmaningar, aktuella regionala frågor och de bilaterala relationerna mellan Finland och Brasilien. I president Niinistös program ingår också diskussioner med den federala senatens vice talman Veneziano Vital do Rêgo och representanthusets talman Arthur Lira. Fredagen den 2 juni besöker president Niinistö São Paulo, där han träffar delstatens guvernör Tarcísio de Freitas samt deltar i ett företagsevenemang arrangerat av delstaten São Paulos industriförbund. I evenemanget deltar också representanter för det finländska och brasilianska näringslivet. President Niinistö åtföljs under besöket i Brasilien av en finländsk företagsdelegation m

Presidentti Niinistö vierailee Brasiliassa26.5.2023 16:03:44 EEST | Tiedote

Tasavallan presidentin kanslia Tiedote 20/2023 26.5.2023 Tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistö tekee virallisen vierailun Brasiliaan 1.–2. kesäkuuta 2023. Vierailu alkaa torstaina 1. kesäkuuta Brasilian presidentti Luiz Inácio Lula da Silvan tapaamisella Brasíliassa. Presidenttien välisissä keskusteluissa esillä ovat geopoliittinen tilanne, yhteiset globaalit haasteet, ajankohtaiset alueelliset kysymykset sekä Suomen ja Brasilian kahdenväliset suhteet. Presidentti Niinistön ohjelmassa on myös keskustelut muun muassa liittovaltion senaatin varapuhemies Veneziano Vital do Rêgon ja edustajainhuoneen puhemies Arthur Liran kanssa. Perjantaina 2. kesäkuuta presidentti Niinistö vierailee São Paulossa, jossa hän tapaa osavaltion kuvernööri Tarcísio de Freitasin sekä osallistuu São Paulon osavaltion teollisuusliiton järjestämään yritystilaisuuteen. Tilaisuuteen osallistuu myös suomalaisen ja brasilialaisen elinkeinoelämän edustajia. Presidentti Niinistön seurueeseen Brasiliassa kuuluu yritysval

Kultaranta Talks 2023: Tougher competition, deeper divisions – How will Finland respond to new global challenges?17.5.2023 11:09:20 EEST | Press release

Office of the President of the Republic of Finland Press release 19/2023 17 May 2023 President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö will host the Kultaranta Talks on 18–19 June 2023 at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki. This year the foreign and security policy event is entitled ”Tougher competition, deeper divisions – How will Finland respond to new global challenges?”. The talks will begin on Sunday 18 June with an address by President Niinistö and a discussion on the global geopolitical situation, great power competition and Finland’s position. On Monday 19 June, there will be three panel discussions on the following topics: The new era of geopolitics and a dividing world, Finland as a militarily allied country, and global technology competition and security. Panellists will be announced closer to the event. About a hundred participants from various sectors of society will be invited to the event. Participants include policymakers, researchers, representatives of government,

Gullrandadiskussionerna 2023: Konkurrensen skärps, världen splittras – hur agerar Finland?17.5.2023 11:08:14 EEST | Tiedote

Republikens presidents kansli Pressmeddelande 19/2023 17.5.2023 Republikens president Sauli Niinistö är värd för Gullrandadiskussionerna 2023 den 18–19 juni i Presidentens slott i Helsingfors. I år går de utrikes- och säkerhetspolitiska överläggningarna under rubriken ”Konkurrensen skärps, världen splittras – hur agerar Finland?”. Evenemanget inleds söndagen den 18 juni med ett anförande av president Niinistö och en diskussion om det geopolitiska läget, stormaktskonkurrensen och Finlands ställning. Måndagen den 19 juni förs tre paneldebatter med följande teman: den nya eran i den globala geopolitiken och en splittrad värld, Finland som ett militärt allierat land samt konkurrens och säkerhet inom tekniken. Medlemmarna i paneldebatterna kommer att offentliggöras närmare evenemanget. Omkring hundra debattörer från olika samhällsområden är inbjudna till Gullrandadiskussionerna. Bland deltagarna finns beslutsfattare, forskare samt företrädare för myndigheter, företag, intresseorganisationer

In our pressroom you can read all our latest releases, find our press contacts, images, documents and other relevant information about us.

Visit our pressroom