Greeting by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö for the event “We have a dream” in 28 July 2015

Finnish democracy, the rule of law and the coherence of Finnish society lay the foundation for a good life. We value these things, which form the ground rules for our life together. We also value the Finnish way of life, and I would like to remind everyone that this has always included allowing room for diversity and for other kinds of customs. Our field of customs and cultures is open and diverse within the framework of our shared ground rules. These things do not restrict each other – they enrich each other.

The coherence of society does not mean that everyone has to be the same as everyone else; it means understanding and respecting the people around us. If we do this, we may expect to be understood and respected in return.

Sadly, we have often seen things go very differently, even here in Finland. I can only repeat what I have said on an earlier occasion: ‘If any one person in a democracy conducts his affairs through the use of violence, in word or deed, this is violence enacted against all.

I hope that the ‘We have a dream’ event will guide public debate about immigration in the right direction.  What we need is dispassionate and fact-based discussion of the difficulties faced by both immigrants and the residents of the receiving country.

Finns have always been able to pull together, and I have no reason to believe that we have suddenly stopped doing so.

Sauli Niinistö
President of the Republic