Speech by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö at the Opening of Parliament on 6 February 2018


Free for publication on 6 February 2018 at 14 hrs 15


Madam Speaker, Members of Parliament,

You are now embarking on the last parliamentary session of your electoral term. The concept of “parliamentary session” has always fascinated me; it is very traditional and ceremonious but, at the same time, somehow full of anticipation and obligation.

The electoral term may be ending, but you have endless things left to do. Since the world does not revolve around electoral terms, no parliament will ever have a shortage of things to do. And this is why we are here.

Parliament will now consider matters that have triggered lots of debate. Social welfare and health care reform, intelligence law – these are not simple to resolve. I hope that whatever each person’s stand is, no one would claim to have the absolute truth. In democracy, common sense usually prevails in the end, because people prefer arguments to agitation. The voice of reason instead of provocation.

All my experience of working with Parliament has been positive. The constitutional amendment approved in 2011 was significant: Any dispute between the President and the Government shall be resolved by Parliament. I was the Speaker back then and considered it a good idea.

And now as President, I still do. This amendment created a kind of connection between the President and his or her parliamentary responsibility. In other words, the President must understand exactly what is going on in the country, what the people are thinking. I hear this from you and I’m all ears.

An approach that I would like to develop further is interaction with the parliamentary group chairpersons. So far, we have usually discussed matters concerning security since their impact spans several electoral terms. But there are other matters of long-term impact, such as climate change, continuous changes in social structures or the EU’s political agenda. These should also be discussed outside day-to-day politics. I will be happy to provide a forum for such discussions. And if a topic is not considered to fall within the scope of the President’s role, I can still provide the setting but remain silent myself.

Such discussions would help us find a common theme that would not be disrupted by change of the government.

* * *

It’s getting lighter by the day now. The economy is improving and unemployment is falling. This has long been needed. And now we need to protect this growth and safeguard its continuation.

It is understandable that after years of austerity and cuts, there is pressure for public expenditure and unmet needs. And these should be assessed. But I must remind you of what was said during the economic revival about growth dealing with debt in due course. If we soon start saying that now we can afford an increase in expenditure, the debt will not be dealt with. And we are approaching the day when increased interest rates will make us feel the real burden of the debt.

An economic upturn can easily make us consider it the new normal, take it for granted and live overly well. We cannot afford such an illusion, however, as we will shortly be facing the hardest pressure caused by changes in the age structure – and we are already in debt. Of course it is easy to say that patience is a virtue, but as decision-makers we should always remember that we should set a good example.

* * *

The European Union has also returned to the growth track, and the improving economy is creating a positive atmosphere in and around the Union.

This good news raises hopes for the internal strengthening of the EU and putting European thinking back on the map. This year will no doubt be decisive pointing towards the EU’s future direction.

The EU has sometimes been described as a house with the roof and walls in place, but nothing inside. Now is the time to explain how the Union is enhancing the living conditions of its citizens. There will be many views, as President Macron has called for a round of democratic conventions.

The first steps towards a security community have been taken. Finland has been in the vanguard of this development. Terrorism has intensified official collaboration and structured cooperation has been launched in the field of defence.

Europe will also face pressure caused by future migration, probably to a growing extent and particularly from Africa. The best way to alleviate this pressure is to improve living conditions in the countries of origin. The EU Member States and the Union itself have their respective development cooperation programmes, which need to be better coordinated.

The EU should also establish common practices for border control, the processing of asylum applications and the returns of immigrants. The content and interpretation of both the Schengen Agreement and the Dublin Regulation should be clarified.

The EU will not become a federation, but the stealthy integration in places may also create dilemmas for Finland. These can be caused by the development plans of our common currency and any suggestions about increasing joint responsibility.

It is clear that there are problems with the euro. But it is also clear that changing the foundation for a single currency will require consensus. Finland should adopt an active role in this process as well. Discussion on the principles is needed.

* * *

In a recent value research, security was considered the most important value by the Finnish respondents. The world has become more troubled and this instability also reflects on us.

What is security? Security is trust in people, the community and social structures. Public trust in the decision-makers and authorities to treat us properly and being able to respond to global changes. Public trust in the professional competence of a police officer, fire fighter or nurse. Furthermore, security means the maintenance of national defence and security of supply.

Finland is now more prepared to react to the increasingly complex security environment. Many legislative projects have moved forward and improved our preparedness. The Government and Parliament have been alert, which as such is a security factor.

Trust and the sense of security arising from it is something that we all have to vigilantly cherish. Love for one’s neighbour, caring and equality – we can all contribute. Trust is created when we respect and look out for each other. It will require money, authorities, services and facilities, but above all it will require us all to maintain integrity.

* * *

The Parliament is the highest authority in our country. Its respect is based on your work – your respect for each other and the work you do together.

It is your demanding task to understand global change. To understand the fact that we cannot stop that change, and to understand how to best keep this country and its people up with the change. There is much talk about the breakup of the coherent culture. But we are still one people, one nation and therefore a community with our common interest to defend.

How to respond to the changes in working life or climate change, and how to respond to the ageing of our population, increasing immigration or the depopulation of remote areas? And how to respond to the feelings of insecurity, even fear and resistance, triggered by these changes? A sense of security takes a long time to grow, but can be shattered in a split second.

It is our job to anticipate people’s emotions and to take them seriously. It took decades to gain full trust in democracy in independent Finland. We have to earn that trust every day. And to earn it, we must find and share what unites us, not what divides us.

We are a small, integrated and secure country. We have an equal, educated and resilient people. This is why we can face change – tenacious, agile and strong. We hold the key to continuous success. Let us use it to open doors.

Madame Speaker, I wish the Speakers the best of luck in your important task. I hereby declare the 2018 session of Parliament opened.

Tietoja julkaisijasta

Tasavallan presidentin kanslia
Tasavallan presidentin kanslia
Mariankatu 2
00170 Helsinki


Tilaa tiedotteet sähköpostiisi

Haluatko tietää asioista ensimmäisten joukossa? Kun tilaat mediatiedotteemme, saat ne sähköpostiisi välittömästi julkaisuhetkellä. Tilauksen voit halutessasi perua milloin tahansa.

Lue lisää julkaisijalta Tasavallan presidentin kanslia

Environmental theme to be visible and audible at this year’s Independence Day reception30.11.2018 09:53Tiedote

Office of the President of the Republic Press Release 48/2018 30 November 2018 The President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö will host Finland’s Independence Day reception together with his spouse Mrs Jenni Haukio on 6 December 2018. The theme of the reception, our shared environment, will be prominent in, for example, the guests, music, foods and drinks served and in the decorations used. Guests to include Finns who have taken action to promote the climate and environment A total of 1,700 people, who are distinguished in various ways and in different fields, have been invited to attend the reception. Invited guests will include, in particular, Finns who have made both small and large efforts to promote sustainability and the environment. Finnish war veterans and members of the Lotta Svärd will be guests of honour. They will arrive first to greet the presidential couple at 7 p.m. to the accompaniment of the Jäger March by Sibelius playing in the background. Nature-themed music The Guard

Miljötemat syns och hörs på självständighetsdagens festmottagning30.11.2018 09:52Tiedote

Republikens presidents kansli Pressmeddelande 48/2018 30.11.2018 Republikens president Sauli Niinistö och hans maka Jenni Haukio är värdar för självständighetsdagens festmottagning på Presidentens slott torsdagen den 6 december 2018. Temat för mottagningen, vår gemensamma miljö, återspeglas bland annat på gästlistan, musiken, trakteringen och dekorationerna. Klimat- och miljöhandlingar högt prioriterade på gästlistan De inbjudna gästerna är i år ca 1 700 och bland dem finns finländare som på olika sätt utmärkt sig inom varierande områden. Särskild vikt har man lagt vid att bjuda in medborgare som utmärkt sig genom små eller stora klimat- och miljöhandlingar. Självskrivna hedersgäster är våra krigsveteraner och lottor. De är de första gästerna som anländer för att klockan 19 hälsas välkomna av presidentparet till takterna av Jägarmarschen av Sibelius Musik med naturtema Gardets Musikkår står för musiken under mottagningsceremonin och under början av kvällen i Rikssalen. Den av Gardets M

Ympäristöteema näkyy ja kuuluu itsenäisyyspäivän juhlavastaanotolla30.11.2018 09:51Tiedote

Tasavallan presidentin kanslia Tiedote 48/2018 30.11.2018 Tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistö isännöi puolisonsa Jenni Haukion kanssa itsenäisyyspäivän juhlavastaanottoa Presidentinlinnassa torstaina 6. joulukuuta 2018. Vastaanoton teema, yhteinen ympäristömme, heijastuu muun muassa kutsuvieraissa, musiikissa, tarjoilussa ja koristeluissa. Kutsuvieraina ilmasto- ja ympäristötekoja tehneitä suomalaisia Tänä vuonna vastaanotolle on kutsuttu noin 1 700 eri tavoin ja eri aloilla ansioitunutta vierasta. Kutsuttuina on erityisesti niin pieniä kuin suuria ilmasto- ja ympäristötekoja tehneitä suomalaisia. Kunniavieraita ovat itseoikeutetusti sotiemme veteraanit ja lotat. He saapuvat ensimmäisenä presidenttiparin kättelyyn Sibeliuksen Jääkärimarssin soidessa kello 19. Luontoaiheista musiikkia Itsenäisyyspäivän juhlavastaanoton kättelyn ja Valtiosalin alkuillan musiikista vastaa Kaartin soittokunta. Musiikkivalinnat soittokunta on tehnyt perinteitä vaalien ja itsenäisyyspäivän juhlavastaanoton

Tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistön lausunto Kertshinsalmen tilanteesta26.11.2018 11:45Tiedote

Tasavallan presidentin kanslia Tiedote 47/2018 26.11.2018 Suomen valtiojohto seuraa Kertshinsalmen tapahtumia tarkasti ja olen keskustellut tilanteesta pääministeri Sipilän ja ulkoministeri Soinin kanssa. Jännitteen lieventämiseksi tulee Venäjän sallia vapaa merenkulku sitoumustensa mukaisesti ja ryhtyä toimiin ukrainalaisalusten ja niiden miehistön palauttamiseksi. Epävakaus alueella on jatkunut pitkään ja eskalaation riski on korkea. Sen takia on ensiarvoisen tärkeää, että kansainvälinen yhteisö reagoi tapahtumiin viipymättä. YK:n turvallisuusneuvoston hätäistunto on tarpeellinen, jotta tilanne saadaan pikaisesti vakautettua. Riippumaton kansainvälinen tutkimus tapahtumien kulusta on myös tarpeen.

President Niinistö and other European leaders launch appeal to halt climate crisis23.11.2018 17:00Tiedote

Office of the President of the Republic of Finland Press Release 46/2018 23 November 2018 President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö has joined an initiative launched today, 23 November 2018, by the Federal President of the Republic of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen calling for more ambitious action to halt climate change. Signed by 16 European Heads of State and Government, the declaration appeals to the parties of the Paris Agreement for swift and decisive joint action to stop the global climate crisis. The launch of the climate initiative is connected to the United Nations Climate Change Conference held on December in Katowice, Poland. President Niinistö will participate in the conference. According to the signatories to the climate appeal declaration, the conference in Poland carries a particular responsibility, as the parties will agree on the implementation guidelines for the Paris Agreement. The 15-point declaration states that more needs to be done to reach the goals

Presidentti Niinistö ja joukko eurooppalaisia valtionpäitä vetoavat ilmastokriisin pysäyttämiseksi23.11.2018 17:00Tiedote

Tasavallan presidentin kanslia Tiedote 46/2018 23.11.2018 Tasavallan presidentti Sauli Niinistö on mukana Itävallan liittopresidentti Alexander Van der Bellenin tänään 23. marraskuuta 2018 julkaistussa aloitteessa, jossa vaaditaan kunnianhimoisempia toimia ilmastonmuutoksen pysäyttämiseksi. Aloitteessa on mukana kuudentoista eurooppalaisen maan valtion- tai hallituksenpäät. Allekirjoittajat vetoavat Pariisin ilmastosopimuksen osapuoliin yhteisen, päättäväisen ja nopean toiminnan aloittamiseksi maailmanlaajuisen ilmastokriisin pysäyttämiseksi. Ilmastoaloite liittyy Puolan Katowicessa joulukuussa pidettävään YK:n ilmastokokoukseen, johon myös presidentti Niinistö osallistuu. Aloitteen allekirjoittajien mukaan Katowicen kokouksella on Pariisin ilmastosopimuksen tavoitteiden saavuttamisen kannalta erityinen vastuu, sillä siellä sovitaan sopimuksen toimeenpanon säännöistä. Viisitoistakohtaisessa aloitteessa todetaan, että Pariisin ilmastosopimuksen tavoitteiden saavuttamiseksi tarvitaan lis

Uutishuoneessa voit lukea tiedotteitamme ja muuta julkaisemaamme materiaalia. Löydät sieltä niin yhteyshenkilöidemme tiedot kuin vapaasti julkaistavissa olevia kuvia ja videoita. Uutishuoneessa voit nähdä myös sosiaalisen median sisältöjä. Kaikki STT Infossa julkaistu materiaali on vapaasti median käytettävissä.

Tutustu uutishuoneeseemme