President Niinistö on a state visit to Iceland: The Nordic brand is strong

President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö and his spouse Jenni Haukio, made a state visit to Iceland on 19–20 October 2022. The main topics discussed during the visit were Nordic and Arctic cooperation, security in Europe and climate change mitigation.

President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson and his spouse Eliza Reid, welcomed the Presidential couple at Bessastaðir on Wednesday morning, 19 October. Pupils from a nearby primary school had also come to greet the Presidential couple.

The topics covered by the Presidents in their discussions were Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, Nordic cooperation, Finland’s NATO membership and climate change. In the press conference that followed their discussions, President Niinistö stressed the close cooperation between the Nordic countries and thanked Iceland for its speedy ratification of Finland and Sweden’s NATO membership.

“We have huge challenges, warfare in Europe. I have felt that the Nordic feeling gets even deeper than I ever could have imagined. And it’s a very valuable thing for all of us.”

Concerning the security situation in Europe, President Niinistö noted that we have entered a new era in which our endurance is being tested at multiple levels. “I have full belief in individuals, in societies, in nations, all over Europe, that we are capable of doing that. We are capable of taking also unpleasant experiences. And we are winning them at the end.”

After the Presidents’ meeting, President Niinistö went on to have discussions with the Speakers of Icelandic Parliament and Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

In the afternoon, President Niinistö and President Jóhannesson participated in a discussion event on Europe’s security and Nordic cooperation at the University of Iceland. In these discussions, President Niinistö brought up the strength of Nordic cooperation and the Nordic brand: “I have always been a huge supporter of Nordic cooperation and considered that it’s on a perfect level. This spring, I noticed that there is a level which is even better than perfect.”

During the day, spouse of the President of the Republic of Finland Jenni Haukio had separate programme together with Ms Eliza Reid, spouse of the President of Iceland. Among other things, they participated in a panel discussion on the association between literature, folklore and national identity at the Nordic House in Reykjavik.

The day’s programme concluded with a dinner hosted by the Presidential couple of Iceland at Bessastaðir.

Visit to glacier highlighted climate change impacts

On the second day of the state visit, President Niinistö and Mrs Haukio were introduced to the natural environment and impacts of climate change in Iceland. Their destinations included Langjökull glacier, which they visited together with the Presidential couple of Iceland.

Signs erected on its edge showed in concrete terms how the glacier has retreated. Talking to Finnish media, President Niinistö said that this sight is very tangible evidence of global warming. “We must understand that it has impacts, not only in the Arctic region but also on the very warmest regions, everywhere in the world.”

President Niinistö’s party on the state visit also included Thomas Blomqvist, Minister for Nordic Cooperation and Equality.

The last time President Niinistö visited Iceland was in autumn 2014. The Presidential couple made a state visit to Iceland in 2013, whereas President of Iceland Jóhannesson and his spouse paid a state visit to Finland in May 2018.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Finland and Iceland.