The President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö travelled to the United States to attend the opening week of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly on 23–28 September 2018. President Niinistö also visited Washington, D.C. while in the United States.
On Monday, 24 September, President Niinistö attended the High-level plenary meeting, the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit, organised in honour of Nelson Mandela as well as the Welcome Reception hosted by the President of the United States Donald Trump.
Finland’s National Statement
President Niinistö delivered Finland’s National Statement at the Opening of the General Debate of the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, 25 September.
“We can no longer take the rules-based order for granted. It is our common responsibility to actively defend and develop it,” said President Niinistö in his speech. “Finland sees the United Nations as the core of the multilateral system. Therefore, the defense of multilateralism must begin right here.”
President Niinistö said that the three pillars of the UN – peace and security, human rights and development – have stood the test of time. He pointed out that issues like sustainability, climate change and migration are also essential questions of peace and security.
“The needs of women, children and youth are still all too often marginalized in peace talks. Finland promotes the role of women’s effective participation in peace processes through the Nordic network of women mediators,” said President Niinistö. Read the speech in full.
On Tuesday evening, President Niinistö had a high-level meeting with UN Secretary-General António Guterres. The President and the Secretary-General discussed climate change, the Arctic Region and sustainable development.
HeForShe Summit on Wednesday
On Wednesday, 26 September, President Niinistö attended the HeForShe IMPACT Summit organised by UN Women, the UN agency for gender equality and women’s rights. At the event, President Niinistö delivered a speech on behalf of the Heads of State and Government belonging to the group.
In his opening remarks, President Niinistö stressed that equality is not only about enhancing the lives of women and girls but also about enhancing stability, security and peace.
“In Finland, improving gender equality has been a determined policy throughout our independence and it has been crucial to our success.”
President Niinistö told the audience, which consisted of heads of state, directors of business and at the academia as well as UN Goodwill Ambassadors, that the UN resolution “Women, peace and security” has been one of Finland’s foreign policy priorities for more than a decade. “As a HeForShe IMPACT Champion, I’m proud to say that Finland is one of the strongest supporters of UN Women.” Read the speech in full.
President Niinistö also attended the One Planet Summit on the mitigation of the effects of climate change on Wednesday, hosted by the President of France Emmanuel Macron.
Speech at a Washington think-tank
On Thursday, 27 September, President Niinistö delivered a speech entitled “A Stronger Europe: Our Common Interest” at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. The event belonged to the prestigious Alan and Jane Batkin International Leaders Forum series organised by the Brookings Institution.
In his speech, President Niinistö emphasised the significance of co-operation and a stronger Europe: “The spirit of belonging together increases our security and resilience. Without it, we are much more vulnerable to external threats.”
According to the President, a shared European spirit and shouldering the responsibility for our own security is important to Europe as well as to the United States and transatlantic cooperation. “I have been calling for a stronger European defence for over a decade already. I am delighted to see that there is finally movement in this field.” ”A stronger Europe means a stronger NATO. And a stronger Europe is a more useful partner for the United States.” Read the speech in full.
President Niinistö’s programme also included several bilateral meetings in both New York and Washington.
President Niinistö served as Chair of the Delegation of Finland at the UN General Assembly. The Finnish delegation also included Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen, and Minister of Social Affairs and Health Pirkko Mattila.