Copyright © Office of the President of the Republic of Finland
Political, economic and cultural cooperation between Finland and Sweden formed the broad focus of a royal state visit by the King and Queen of Sweden from 3 to 5 March. In addition, H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf and H.M. Queen Silvia met with young Finns in particular.
The state visit began with a reception ceremony to the fore of the Presidential Palace on Tuesday 3 March, at which President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö and his spouse Jenni Haukio welcomed the royal guests. A large crowd had gathered in the Market Square, Helsinki, to catch a glimpse of the proceedings.
Following the official discussions, the afternoon programme included an enterprise seminar, a visit to Parliament and a wreath-laying ceremony at the Hietaniemi Cemetery. Queen Silvia and Mrs Jenni Haukio visited the Ateneum art museum, where they spent time at the Sibelius anniversary exhibition. The day ended with a state dinner hosted by the President and his spouse at the Presidential Palace.
“The scope and depth of our collaboration are unique by international standards,” commented President Niinistö in his speech at the dinner held in honour of the state visit. I hold our relationship in great esteem, and feel that we are now closer to one another than ever — except perhaps when we meet on the ice hockey rink,” said the president.
President Niinistö stated that the two countries are united by common languages and the Swedish language is a major asset in Finnish-Swedish relations. “We are delighted that Sweden has recently taken steps to actively promote the status of the Finnish language in Sweden.”
In his speech, President Niinistö thanked Sweden for its assistance during the Winter War. “Sweden supplied Finland with weapons and other materials and provided voluntary troops to bolster Finland’s defence. The volume and extent of the aid given deserves greater appreciation from Finland than has been shown until now.”
In terms of security policy, our two countries face similar challenges. We are both seeking to guarantee and improve our citizens’ safety, freedom and wellbeing. As each others’ closest partners, it is therefore only natural that we seek common solutions in the field of defence cooperation.”
Meetings with young people
The second day of the state visit began with the royal couple and the accompanying delegation of Swedish business leaders meeting a selection of Finnish start up companies. Mr Peter Westerback of Finnish company Rovio and Miki Kuusi of the Slush event explained how Finnish success stories are the result of joint efforts and collaboration.
The king and queen visited the Enterprise Village for schoolchildren in Espoo and a seminar involving opinion-shapers from young people’s organisations in Hanasaari.
Following a lunch arranged by the City of Helsinki, the king and President Niinistö were briefed on the operations of the Defence Forces and on defence cooperation between Finland and Sweden in Santahamina. President Niinistö noted that closer defence cooperation has no definitive goal, but is being implemented one step at a time. “Our collaboration has progressed extremely well so far,” said President Niinistö at Santahamina.
The heads of state were introduced to the training of recruits for the Guard Jaeger Regiment and to the medical evacuation capabilities of the Finnish helicopter unit forming part of the EU’s crisis response force. Sweden acts as the lead country for the response force. After the visit to Santahamina, the programme included a tour of the Military Museum of Finland’s exhibition commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Winter War.
The state visit ended on Thursday 5 March at Lappeenranta. Read more
Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Margot Wallström, its Minister of Education, Gustav Fridolin and a delegation of business leaders will attend the state visit.