President Niinistö on the State visit to Italy: We need unity to build a better future

President Niinistö inspects the Guard of Honour accompanied by President Mattarella. Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

President Niinistö inspects the Guard of Honour accompanied by President Mattarella. Photo: Matti Porre/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö and his spouse Jenni Haukio made a state visit to Italy on 23–24 October 2023. The agenda of the visit included current security policy issues and bilateral relations between Finland and Italy.

President Niinistö held formal discussions with President of Italy Sergio Mattarella at the Quirinale Palace in Rome on Monday 23 October. In addition to the strong bilateral relations between Finland and Italy, the presidents discussed global and regional security challenges and support for Ukraine.

In the afternoon, President Niinistö met Prime Minister of Italy Giorgia Meloni over a working lunch and had a thorough discussion on European security and current issues such as the situation in Israel and the Middle East and migration. In addition, the President had a meeting with Lorenzo Fontana, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

Shared, common views

In the joint press conference with President Mattarella, and later when he met with the Finnish media, President Niinistö stressed that the countries share many common views.

Both Finland and Italy have shown strong support for Ukraine since the beginning of the war. “It is important that we stay stubborn on this. We will continue as long as needed. Actually, I have no doubt that Europe is prepared to do that”, the President said.

The President further told that he had discussions with President Mattarella and Prime Minister Meloni on migration and the global development that seems to divide the world. According to President Niinistö, there is a huge paradox, as the challenges we now face require more mutual understanding than ever before.

As a good example of positive efforts, President Niinistö mentioned the Italian Mattei Plan, an initiative that aims to establish equal partnerships with African countries. “I think the basic elements of it could give us an example of how we all need to start on an equal basis.”

There is also a call for unity within Europe. “The Russian attack on Ukraine showed that we can unite when faced with issues that are truly important or crucial. And this kind of unity is what we need to build a better future for the world.”

The first day of the presidential couple’s program also included a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and a dinner hosted by President Mattarella and his daughter Laura Mattarella.

NATO’s 360-degree approach is important to security

On Tuesday 24 October, the presidential couple travelled to Naples, where President Niinistö visited NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command and met its commander, Admiral Stuart B. Munsch. During the visit, the current security situation and NATO’s Southern and Mediterranean Operation Area were discussed. “NATO’s 360-degree approach is central to the security of the Alliance as a whole,” President Niinistö said at the end of the visit.

The state visit ended with a lunch hosted by President Mattarella and Laura Mattarella at Villa Rosebery, the official residence of the President.

In addition to the joint program of the presidential couple, Jenni Haukio had a tour of the art collection at the Quirinale Palace with Laura Mattarella and visited art-historical and cultural heritage sites in Rome and Naples.

President Niinistö previously visited Italy to attend a meeting of the Arraiolos Group of European Presidents.