According to President of the Republic Tarja Halonen, it is vital for Finland to have a broad consensus on key security policy issues. In her speech at the opening of the 2009 session of Parliament on 4 February 2009, President Halonen said that the Government report practices on Finnish security and defence policy should be continued in one form or another also in the future as security policy is a long-term effort which extends beyond electoral periods. President Halonen also talked about the economic situation. “Now is the time to do everything in our power to keep people employed and in the workplace. Layoffs and redundancies might help the company get through the tough times, but they will not help us climb out of this deep economic downturn”, President Halonen stated.
According to President Halonen, the Government report on Finnish security and defence policy, which will soon be submitted to Parliament, addresses issues related to NATO more comprehensively than before. “The actual policy definition reinforces our position, according to which we reserve the possibility of applying for membership in the organisation. In my discussions with the Government, there has been a clear agreement that, despite amendment of the wording, our policy will not change”, President said. “The report does not bring NATO membership any closer or push it further away, but it keeps the applying for membership just as much a possibility as it was before”.
The report also states that Finland enhances its participation in international crisis management, which, according to the President, is part of international responsibility. Participation in crisis management strengthens national defence and is an important tool of foreign policy for Finland.
Economic crisis must not divide the country
President Halonen said that many households are, with good reason, worried about the future. “Now is the time to do everything in our power to keep people employed and in the workplace. Layoffs and redundancies might help the company get through the tough times, but they will not help us climb out of this deep economic downturn”, President Halonen emphasized.
The economy must be revived in a manner that unites society. “Fairness, humanity and solidarity are principles that must be evident in the actual performance of work. By making wise decisions, we can prevent the country from being divided and invest in new competence for the future of our people”.
”During the time of rapid economic growth, biased incentive systems were implemented. These systems did not create sustainable growth or co-operation and trust in the workplace”, President Halonen noted. The weaknesses of the system must be corrected through international co-operation. According to President Halonen, market forces are incapable of correcting the situation that they themselves have created, whether at the international or national level.
Language is home of mind
At the end of her speech at the opening of the session of Parliament, President Halonen stressed that the cultural and societal needs of the Finnish and Swedish-speaking populations must be provided for on an equal basis. President Halonen said that mother tongue has a very significant meaning to a person. “Language is the home of the mind. Basic linguistic rights are also often a prerequisite for the realisation of other fundamental rights”.