Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

Day two of the Kultaranta Talks 2024: “Finland’s position in Europe and the world”

The second day of the Kultaranta Talks 2024 began with a discussion between President Alexander Stubb, Prime Minister Petteri Orpo and journalist Jan Andersson. The opening debate focused on Finland’s role in supporting Ukraine and as a member of NATO. President Stubb and Prime Minister Orpo both emphasised that Finland stands by Ukraine.

“Finland will continue to support Ukraine for as long as it is needed,” President Stubb said.

The President mentioned the summit on peace in Switzerland as a first step: “The peace process consists of different stages and we are now taking the first steps. What has changed from before is that we are now actually talking about peace. And that in itself is important.”

One of the most important elements of stability, according to Prime Minister Orpo, is the enlargement of the EU.

“EU enlargement is a geopolitical necessity. Finland must assume a significant role in the process,” Orpo said.

Finland as part of the Global West

The second debate of the day examined Finland as part of the Global West. The topic was addressed by Heidi Hautala, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Janne Kuusela, Director General of the Defence Policy Department of the Ministry of Defence, and Timo Miettinen, Academy Research Fellow at the University of Helsinki. The discussion was moderated by Senior Advisor Katri Makkonen.

In the opinion of the panellists, Finland should take more interest in what is happening in other EU countries. Joint European solutions are needed on key issues, as Finland alone does not have the resources to tackle major problems, such as climate change.

Common solutions were also requested for the defence industry. According to Kuusela, Russia’s aggression came as a shock to European countries in 2014. Several European countries had driven down their defence capabilities and industries.

“Money alone is not enough, even if there is now a willingness to invest. Once a country’s defence has been run down, it takes a long time to rebuild. The way forward is to work together,” Kuusela said.

Finland as a global partner

Finland’s role as a global partner was discussed with Annastina Haapasaari, Editor-in-Chief of The Ulkopolitist, Leena-Kaisa Mikkola, Finnish Ambassador to Beijing, Tytti Tuppurainen, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group, and Janne Taalas, Chief Executive Officer of CMI – Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation.

“For years, Finland has been known as a Nordic country that can and wants to co-operate. We have always got along with those who think differently,” Ambassador Mikkola said.

The panellists stressed the growing importance of the Global South. They also pointed out that the Global South should not be seen as a single partner, but as several countries with different characteristics.

The importance of the Global West, on the other hand, is diminishing. One example of this is that in the past, peace agreements in wars like the Ukraine war did not even include non-Western countries. Today, the Global South is involved. This is a sign of change in the world order,” CEO Taalas pointed out.

“We need to listen to countries that disagree instead of telling them they are wrong,” said Taalas.

Towards a new era

In his closing remarks, President Stubb underlined the importance of the Kultaranta Talks as an arena for discussing Finland’s foreign and security policy.

“In the past, our foreign policy debate has been cautious. Now it feels like the dam has burst. The discussions here were characterised by a spirit of openness and appreciation,” President Stubb said.

“For me, foreign policy is always a team game. The direction of Finland’s foreign policy is set by the President of the Republic in cooperation with the Government, but I consider cooperation with Parliament to be equally important. In this respect, there is no ambiguity in Finland,” the President stressed.

Next year, the Kultaranta Talks will return to Kultaranta, the Presidential Summer Residence in Naantali.

More news

More news