Speech by Minister Soini at the Finland 100 gala concert in Berlin
Speech by Foreign Minister Timo Soini at the Finland 100 gala concert in Berlin, 27 November 2017.
Sehr geehrter Herr Präsident Köhler,
verehrte Frau Köhler,
sehr geehrte Frau Bundesministerin Hendricks,
meine Damen und Herren,
es ist mir eine große Freude und Ehre zugleich, diesen Abend hier in Berlin mit Ihnen allen zu feiern.
Ladies and gentlemen,
2017 is a very special year for Finland. We are celebrating 100 years as an independent nation, and actually even more than 100 years of modern democracy. We are celebrating this together with all Finns and friends of Finland. The theme for our Centennial is “Together“ – Yhdessä, Tillsammans.
“Together” begins at home. As a nation of 5.5 million people, we cannot afford to leave anyone behind. Pulling together has served us well throughout our history, in good times and bad. I am proud to say that together we have turned Finland’s story into a success story.
The power of “together” does not, however, stop at our borders. For Finland, international cooperation is critically important.
We trust in multilateralism and rules-based global order. Our security is strengthened by international institutions and our prosperity is built on free trade and an open world economy. In facing the challenges of our time, cooperation is the key – good partners are beyond price.
Our close relationship with Germany has a long history. Already during the Middle Ages trade – not least because of the Hanseatic League – tied Finland and Germany together. A bit later, basically from the 15th century on, many prominent Finns studied at German universities. Among them was the father of literary Finnish, Mikael Agricola, who studied in Wittenberg under the guidance of Martin Luther and translated the New Testament into Finnish. Trade, education and the Reformation are only some examples of our active interaction throughout the centuries.
When we look at the past 100 years, the very close linkage between our countries is obvious. Germany has had a strong influence on our path to the Finland of today. Germany was very closely tied to the events leading to our independence and our ties continued also throughout the turbulent 20th century.
Although located on the northern shores of the European continent, Finland’s history is part of our common European history.
Today, Germany is one of our closest partners. It is our major trade partner, as well as a significant investor and investment destination. Our cooperation in the field of security and defense is very close. In central sectors and questions – for example related to EU integration; foreign-, security- and defense policy; internal market or trade and economic policy – we have a lot in common. Also our cultural relations are very close.
Germany is a good partner for Finland and our relations are excellent. This gives us a good ground to deepen and widen them even further. Finland will continue its active and constructive EU policy that is highly valued also in Germany.
I am confident that our relations and partnership will remain very close in the years to come.
Today Finland is a rich welfare state. We have reached top positions in many international comparisons and studies and we have every reason to be proud of our history – but it has not always been easy. Turning Finland into one of the most stable, successful and competitive societies in the world did not happen overnight. It has been a result of sacrifice, courage and vision.
While remembering the past, we should not forget the future. We need to make sure that we are fit for the next 100 years. Our vision is clear. Finland continues to be a frontrunner in many fields.
We will, for instance, take digitalization – a segment where we are already now in the lead – even one step further. Increasing the use of artificial intelligence is just one proof of that. We will continue to focus on education and to be the land of innovation - ready for renewal when needed.
We will also continue to have a caring and secure society in which each and every one of us is important ̶ a society, where dignity and trust are prevailing. I am confident that in the years to come we will experience the kind of optimism and enthusiasm that has taken us this far.
Ladies and gentlemen, hyvät naiset ja herrat,
It is truly an honor and a privilege for my wife and me to be here with you tonight celebrating 100 years of Finland’s independence and honoring the excellent relations between Finland and Germany, as well as all friends and Finns living in Germany.
Meine Damen und Herren,
Ich wünsche Ihnen allen viel Freude an diesem Konzert und für die Zukunft Glück, Wohlergehen und Erfolg!