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Speeches, 4/29/2014

Secretary of State Stenlund presented Finnish views on Ukraine to Ambassadors accredited to Finland

Ambassadors accredited to Finland from over 70 countries worldwide attended a briefing at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki. Photo: Raino Heinonen

Ambassadors accredited to Finland from over 70 countries worldwide attended a briefing at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki on 29 April.

Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Alexander Stubb spoke on Diplomacy and Twitter and Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto spoke on Current Affairs in Development policy.

The event was opened by Secretary of State Peter Stenlund.

As a special guest, Professor Petteri Taalas, the Finnish and Nordic candidate for the position of the Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation, gave a presentation on Finland's Role in Global Capacity Building to be Prepared for Climate Change with Early Warning Services.

Later the same evening President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö hosted the traditional dinner for the heads of diplomatic missions accredited to Finland at the Helsinki City Hall on Tuesday 29 April 2014.

Opening remarks of Mr. Stenlund


It is an honour for me to welcome you all and open the discussions.  Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja would have liked to meet you, but he had to leave Helsinki for a Nordic Foreign Ministers Meeting in Reykjavik. Mr. Pekka Haavisto, Minister for International Development, will brief you on Current Affairs in Development policy and Mr. Alexander Stubb, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade has chosen an exciting topic "Diplomacy and Twitter". And finally we have the privilege to introduce Professor Petteri Taalas, the Finnish and Nordic candidate for the position as Secretary General of the World Meteorological Organisation.

We are meeting at an exceptional time. Viewed from Helsinki, from a European perspective, international relations have become more strained, this very year. To save international relations from further damage, we must continue to stress the respect of international obligations.

As diplomats based or accredited here, you have surely noticed that the situation in Ukraine, as well as the EU-Russia relations, have been under constant scrutiny at the political level in Finland.

President Niinistö, Prime Minister Katainen and Minister Tuomioja have made Finland’s positions known and discussed them in numerous interviews.        

From the outset, Finland has stressed that the use of force, and threat thereof, are to be condemned as breaches of international law. Russia has violated Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. Annexation of the Crimean peninsula cannot be accepted. The UN General Assembly has adopted on this matter a resolution entitled "Territorial integrity of Ukraine". A clear majority of all states supported the resolution.

Military action, or any other action that might further escalate the situation, is no solution. The Geneva Statement of 17 April 2014 must be implemented swiftly to de-escalate tensions and restore security for all citizens. The authorities of Ukraine, as an independent state, have both the responsibility and the right to guarantee the security for all citizens and stability in the country. It is important to support the Ukrainian government in stabilizing the situation. The Ukrainian government should be supported in working firmly to strengthen the rule of law, its constitutional and economic reforms and fight against corruption. Further, more efforts are needed to support the OSCE monitoring mission's work and to get the remaining captured OSCE observers released.

For its part, Finland contributes in the EU to all efforts to solve the crisis. We promote the unity of the EU and implement fully the decisions made in the EU.  Finland encourages Ukraine to continue with its course of political reforms, including notably the constitutional reform. We strongly support the holding of free and fair Presidential elections on 25 May. Here the OSCE election monitoring has an important role.

From a Finnish viewpoint, it is of utmost importance to reestablish normal neighbourly relations between Ukraine and Russia, and to heal the EU-Russia relationship. The basis for doing this is the respect for territorial integrity and sovereignty. And the support for strengthening democracy, rule of law and human rights.

Defining the future of Ukraine belongs to Ukraine itself. The international community is there to help and common efforts can be successful. A meaningful dialogue between Russia and Ukraine must be established. Relations with the EU, as well as relations with Russia, will both be important for Ukraine, also in the future.  

I wish to end my remarks by returning to the wider international scene. Other crises, suffering and needs have by no means gone away. Efforts need to be stepped up in many places. Notably in Syria, to tackle the absolutely appalling humanitarian situation there. As a small country, devoted to the principles of the EU and the UN, Finland always aims at upholding international law and a well-functioning international community – in each and every case.   

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Updated 4/30/2014

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