President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö attended the meeting of the Arraiolos Group of European presidents in Rome on 15 September 2021. Discussions at the Quirinale Palace focused this year on Europe’s global influence and the state of the multilateral system.
In his speech, President Niinistö addressed the EU’s position as a global actor. According to the President, the risk for Europe is to drift in the accelerating great-power competition from subject to object. The Strategic Compass, which the EU is currently preparing to specify guidelines for its security and defence cooperation, is a good tool but “must also be on the map”.
The President stated that everyone knows the paradox in which finding common global solutions becomes more difficult as common problems and challenges become ever more urgent. To overcome this paradox, common denominators are required. According to the President, Finland intends to make good use of the 50th anniversary of the OSCE, namely to revitalise worldwide the spirit of Helsinki 1975. “What set the original Helsinki conference apart was exactly that spirit: a willingness to engage in dialogue between adversaries and competitors, building trust, and seeking common denominators, even small ones to begin with.”
The meeting was hosted by President of Italy Sergio Mattarella and was attended by the presidents of 14 EU Member States. In addition to the discussions, the programme also included bilateral meetings between the heads of state.
The Arraiolos Group has convened for informal presidential-level discussions since the year 2003. Meetings of the Group have also been held in Finland in 2005 and 2012.