Governor General of Canada Mary Simon started her state visit to Finland on Tuesday 7 February 2023. President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö and Dr Jenni Haukio received their guest at an official welcoming ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki. The discussions between the President and the Governor General focused on bilateral relations between Finland and Canada, security issues, climate change and Arctic cooperation.
At a joint press conference after the official discussions president Niinistö stressed the vulnerability of the Arctic to climate change. “It is our duty to do our best to avoid a catastrophe in the Arctic. If we lose the Arctic, we lose the globe. We have a lot of responsibilities in terms of cooperation.”
President Niinistö emphasised the good bilateral relations between Finland and Canada. “The attitude in the northern countries is very similar, which makes our cooperation natural.” The president also stressed the importance of transatlantic cooperation: “Europe has faced a time of war, which seemed impossible. It has woken us up to the fact that the world is not as good as we thought it would be. That is why transatlantic cooperation is becoming more and more important,” president Niinistö said.
When asked by the press about the ratification process for NATO membership, the president said that Finland’s position is clear. “We are moving forward in mutual understanding with Sweden, while maintaining close contact with Brussels, and of course with the White House and Türkiye. That is our position at the moment. The aim is for both Finland and Sweden to become members as soon as possible.”
On Tuesday, the Governor General’s programme also included a lunch hosted by the City of Helsinki, a meeting with Antti Rinne, First Deputy Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, and a state dinner at the Presidential Palace.
The state visit will continue on Wednesday with a wreath-laying ceremony at Hietaniemi Cemetery, a visit to the Yrityskylä Helsinki-Vantaa learning environment for young people and a meeting with Sámi youth.
On Thursday 9 February, President Niinistö and Governor General Simon will visit Rovaniemi in Northern Finland. In the morning, the President and the Governor General will participate at a panel discussion on the impacts of climate change in the Arctic at the Arktikum Science Centre. The programme will continue with an introduction to Sámi language teaching at Ylikylä primary school and a visit to Lapland Air Command.