Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Alexander Stubb at the Annual Dinner for the Diplomatic Corps at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on 16 May 2024

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen

Suzanne and I take great pleasure in welcoming you all at the Presidential Palace today. 

Suzanne et moi-même vous souhaitons chaleureusement la bienvenue au Palais présidentiel.

Suzanne und ich heißen Sie herzlich willkommen hier im Präsidentenpalais.


Traditional diplomacy is more important today than at any time since the end of the Cold War. As I stated in my inaugural speech in March, we live in a world of unrest and disorder where international institutions and global rules are challenged every day.

A decade ago, things looked different. Multilateralism was doing well and produced tangible results, such as the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015. The developments in information technology seemed to be making our work easier. Social media was still mainly seen as a tool for good, for effective communication and connecting people.

Some even questioned the value of diplomacy in a world, where interconnectedness seemed so natural. In many countries, resources were re-allocated from the traditional field of security policy to business and trade promotion.


But things did not go the way we expected. Today, the multilateral system is under increasing pressure. It is clear, that it needs to change and become more inclusive. Also technological development has shown its darker side: namely, disinformation and election meddling, as well as challenges related to emerging technologies that we have only just seen a glimpse of.  

But most importantly, we have witnessed the return of geopolitics. Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine brought war back to the European soil. For Finland, Ukraine is and continues to be a foreign and security political priority. We cannot let grave violations of the UN Charter go unchecked. We cannot let Russia redraw borders by force. 

At the same time, tensions are running high in other regions of the world. The war between Israel and Hamas risks a wider escalation in the Middle East. In Africa, we have seen a series of coups and conflicts, such as the on-going war in Sudan, causing tremendous human suffering. 

The return of geopolitics also means the return of diplomacy. No one questions the value of your work anymore. Wars and conflicts are fought on the battlefields but settled by diplomatic means. The diplomats of today should not be mere participants of history. Wherever you are posted, whatever your home country, it is your job to actively promote understanding and bring solutions. 


And I can promise you that Finland is willing to engage in constructive dialogue with each and every one of you. Our foreign and security policy is based on value-based realism. We hold on to our core values, while being open to cooperation on issues of mutual interest also with those who might not share our values. We work to strengthen the international rules-based system, while continuing to invest in our national security and that of our Allies. 

Many of you have been in Finland for some years already. You know us. We only say what we mean and we do what we say. You can rely on us. 

Today, I want to encourage you to not just report on the goings-on in Finland, but to actively seek dialogue and cooperation with different interlocutors, be it in government, business or civil society. To look for possible synergies and to think what we could jointly bring to the table for the benefit of the global community.

We do a lot already. You do a lot. But there is room for more. The doors of our office will always be open for you. As are, I am sure, the doors of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs led by our excellent Minister Ms. Elina Valtonen.

C’est un plaisir de discuter avec vous ce soir et d’apprendre à mieux vous connaître.

Ich freue mich auf die Diskussionen heute Abend und darauf, Sie alle besser kennenzulernen.

Tonight’s event provides an opportunity for us to exchange views and ideas and to get to know each other. Let us use it to the fullest. 

Thank you.

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