Speech by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö at Kauniala Hospital Christmas celebration on 9th December 2016

The past week has been an emotional week of festivities. We celebrated 99 years of independence on Tuesday. But for Jenni and me this traditional visit to Kauniala hospital conveys a very special sense of the precious nature of our independence, while marking the run up to Christmas.

Kauniala hospital is much more than a hospital, or a provider of rehabilitation or care services. Many people have lived, recovered and sought a profession here. The story goes that, over the years, married couples have also been brought together in Kauniala.

The significance of Kauniala can be summed up in the Kauniala spirit. This is based on good, expert and modern care and a sense of caring. It can be seen in the fact that everyone is appreciated – the carers value their patients and vice versa.

This year, we are celebrating the Kauniala hospital’s 70-year history alongside the start of the Christmas season. The basis for the care of Finnish veterans was established in wartime. The opening of the Kauniala hospital immediately after the war showed that we in Finland intended to take care of those who had sacrificed themselves for our homeland, despite an economic situation and atmosphere that were much more difficult than now.

We would do well to continue cherishing the Kauniala spirit and its uncompromising commitment to high-quality care in the years to come. It is our duty to do so.

* * *

Last year, we also had the chance to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Disabled War Veterans’ Association of Finland. The theme of this anniversary was ”Edellä käyden – vammoista huolimatta” (Moving forward – despite our injuries).

This motto says a great deal about the fact that a way forward is found, regardless of daunting obstacles. Despite their injuries and the related difficulties, our war invalids have relentlessly persevered and kept trying. In this context, our various everyday worries seem petty. When a person decides to forge ahead, this provides a strong incentive to try, regardless of the situation.

So how far have we come on the basis of looking ahead? Many international comparisons rank Finland as one of the world’s top countries in a number of regards. Studies have shown that Finland is among the best performers in the world based on criteria such as honesty, innovation, literacy and success in education, and opportunities for girls.

Finland has also been recognised as the world’s most stable country. We cannot achieve perfect safety in today’s world, but in such troubled times stability and security are issues to which we should attach a high value.

Accolades and prestige are matters of which we, as a modest people by nature, need to remind ourselves. When Finland leads the world based on so many indicators, this should be viewed as a major achievement by a country which will only reach its hundredth year of independence next year.

* * *

You have secured and enabled our continued independence, while building the basis on which we have risen to the top of world rankings. We would not be celebrating next year’s centenary of Finnish independence without you.

In addition to the celebrations, next year involves an important centenary message: “Together”. At almost a hundred years old, our independent Finland now needs a communal spirit, a common will and faith in the future. These will sound like very familiar principles inherited from the early decades of our independence.

While the times are certainly different, we should also look ahead to the second century of our history as an independent nation. I have mentioned many ordinary, minor issues, which can have an impact on young people and spur them onwards. This may involve hints, anecdotes or just support. Every one of us has something to give.

I have aimed my message at the makers of our future, our young people, in particular, but as the centenary year approaches this concerns each and every one of us. It concerns the spiritual principles that we have learned from our history, as well as newer ideas and thoughts that we have gathered along the way. Finland has always moved forward together – and it will continue to do so.

I give you my warm thanks for your immeasurable sacrifices for our common good. When we look around and think of Finland, we see that this is a good country in which to live.

I would like to wish you all a pleasant and peaceful Christmas period, and good health and well-being in the years to come.