President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö visited the autonomous Åland Islands and opened the 2023–2024 term of the Parliament of Åland in Mariehamn on 3 November 2023. He also met representatives of the autonomous province of Åland and discussed current issues concerning the province with them.
In his speech the President said that is is understandable that the increasingly tense security situation provokes discussion also in Åland. “The position of Åland is not built upon impressions. The demilitarisation and neutralisation of Åland has a clear international legal status, based not only on international agreements but also on customary law,” the President said.
The President made reference to the report prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the special status of Åland and other legal issues concerning the province. The report is currently being finalised and will also include consultations with representatives of the Åland Island. “However, the issue is not limited only to the principles of international law nor is it limited to borders of Finland. We also need to take into account our Western partners.”
“When push comes to shove, Finland will definitely secure Åland with its allies. But overall security is strengthened and ensured through everyday actions. Therefore, I encourage everyone here to discuss what people could do themselves in Åland to enhance security”, President Niinistö said.
“Much to my delight, I have also noticed how practical and even unofficial cooperation between Åland and the State has increased over the recent years”, said the President. Dialogue and everyday cooperation are promoted, for example, by the Åland Network (the Finnish Government’s network of contact persons for Åland affairs) and the Åland Academy (training organised by the Government of Åland for Finnish ministry officials).
The President said that he greatly appreciates the discussions and cooperation he has had with the representatives of Åland during his term of office. “I am convinced that Åland will continue to remain a safe, beautiful and vital region. Let us all bear our responsibility for this and work together for the advantage of the province.”
During his visit President Niinistö also met representatives of the province of Åland. Discussions covered security, the reform of the Act on Autonomy of Åland and other topical issues in Åland, such as the recent provincial elections.
President Niinistö previously visited the Åland Islands in June 2022, when he attended the 100th anniversary celebrations of Åland’s autonomy.