President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö paid a working visit to Germany on 21–23 November 2021. On Monday, 22 November, President Niinistö met with Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany Frank-Walter Steinmeier and gave a speech at an event organised by the Körber Foundation.
The bilateral meeting between President Niinistö and Federal President Steinmeier focused on the Helsinki Spirit, great-power relations and European security. After the meeting and lunch, the Presidents continued discussing the Helsinki Spirit together with Finnish and German experts.
The Spirit of Helsinki in the Age of Great-Power Competition
On Monday afternoon, President Niinistö was the keynote speaker at an event organised by the Körber Foundation, which was also attended by Federal President Steinmeier. The title of the event was “International Dialogue Revisited: The Spirit of Helsinki in an Age of Great-Power Competition”.
The President stressed the importance of dialogue and trust in an era of growing tensions and new technological threats. Discussions among the like-minded are not enough. Dialogue is particularly important with those with whom we agree the least.
“Safeguarding peace and security. Ensuring the sustainability and welfare of our planet. These are, in my view, our most urgent human responsibilities. We can only shoulder these responsibilities by working together,” the President said, asking: “Are we willing to accept these responsibilities?”
President Niinistö raised arms control as a concrete example of where the Helsinki Spirit approach could be utilised. During the Cold War, arms control negotiations resulted not only to concrete arms limitations but also to increased trust between the parties: it created a virtuous cycle.
The situation has been changed by the disappearance of the agreements reached during the Cold War and made more complex by new technologies and artificial intelligence. “With a growing number of actors and a far less predictable landscape, building trust becomes even more difficult. Yet build it we must.”
In his speech, the President said that in addition to cooperation with Germany, Finland is looking at ways to combine the Helsinki Spirit approach with the Our Common Agenda process at the United Nations. “Also here, the focus is on peace and security, arms control and emerging technologies, conflict prevention and building trust.”
President Niinistö also stated that at the end of last week, Finland formally decided to put itself forward as a candidate for the OSCE Chairmanship in 2025. “We need to take responsibility for the future of our continent. Finland stands ready to play its part.”
Speech at Humboldt University of Berlin on Tuesday
The working visit continued on Tuesday, 23 November, when President Niinistö delivered a speech at Humboldt University in Berlin. The title of the speech is “The Case for a Stronger Europe in a Harder World”.
- Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Körber Foundation Event “International Dialogue Revisited: The Spirit of Helsinki in an Age of Great-Power Competition”, 22 November 2021
- ”The Case for a Stronger Europe in a Harder World” – Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Humboldt University, Berlin, 23 November 2021