President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö met with the Speaker and Deputy Speakers of Parliament, the Chairs of the Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees, and leaders of parties elected to Parliament on Thursday, 10 March 2022. The meeting focused on the impact of the current security situation on Finland’s foreign and security policy, and further measures required.
President Niinistö began the media conference that followed the meeting by stating that there is no immediate threat to Finland. According to the President, Finland has secure solutions also for the future, which must now be reviewed carefully. “Not hesitating, but with care. At the meeting, the leaders of the parties represented in Parliament were unanimous about this.”
The President said the purpose of the forthcoming report is to go through the different options and their risks. “Once this analysis of options and risks has been conducted in Parliament, then it will be time for conclusions.” In addition, he also drew attention to the role of Parliament in the process: “Parliament must have all the keys to the solution, that is a highly analytical report on what kind of solution models there are and what risks they involve – to have full knowledge before making the Parliament’s decision on the issue.”
On the war in Ukraine, the President noted that the situation can no longer be described even by the words shocking and cruel. “The most important thing, of course, in a situation like this would be to find détente or peace.”
According to the President, it has generally been considered important to maintain contact with Russia, despite everything. “Of Europeans, President Macron and Chancellor Scholz, have done so. I have heard from both of them, especially from Macron, about the duty of maintaining contact with Putin, if such contact exists. We also talked about this in the United States.” As a result of these talks, President Niinistö has scheduled a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin for Friday, 11 March.
President Niinistö also highlighted China’s role in resolving the situation. “Now there would be a need for China, insofar as it can make a difference, to also work to secure peace in Europe,” he said, adding that he is also currently seeking to communicate with China.
President Niinistö described the discussion on avoiding escalation through the metaphor of a set of scales. “On one side of the scales we have cold killing and the need to put an end to it, and on the other side there is the risk of escalation, that is statements to the fact that because Ukraine is not covered by Article 5 it cannot be helped.” According to the President, it is up to everyone to consider where the balance in the scales lies. It is clearly apparent how public pressure will increase as the situation become more violent.
President Niinistö considered NATO membership to be another, smaller set of scales. “There, Russia and NATO sit on opposite sides of the scales. And this, too, we should keep in mind.” At the same time, the President stressed that in all the discussions he has had, it has been stated that NATO is adhering to its “open doors” policy.
At the end of his address, the President touched on cooperation with Sweden. “I would say that we have surely never been in such close continuous dialogue with Sweden as now, and that is a good thing.”
The meeting held before the media conference was attended by Speaker of Parliament Matti Vanhanen and Deputy Speakers Antti Rinne and Juho Eerola, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Jussi Halla-aho and Chair of the Defence Committee Ilkka Kanerva, Chairs Sanna Marin, Li Andersson, Anna-Maja Henriksson, Iiris Suomela, Riikka Purra, Sari Essayah and Harry Harkimo and, representing their parties, Deputy Chair Petri Honkonen and Parliamentary Group Chair Kai Mykkänen. Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto was also present.
The event was a follow-up to a meeting held by remote connection on Wednesday, 2 March. Yesterday, the President also had a separate meeting by remote connection with the Parliamentary Committee for Foreign Affairs. In addition, he will have a discussion with the Parliamentary Committee on Defence by remote connection on Friday.