Opening remarks by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö at Business Forum during the state visit by the Grand-Duc of Luxembourg, 11 May 2016

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I would like to begin by warmly welcoming your delegation to Finland. This is an important visit for me personally because I have had the pleasure to live four years in your beautiful country.

Today we have gathered here to develop business cooperation between Finland and Luxembourg. Yesterday you had the opportunity to visit Suomenlinna island and to discuss potential cooperation in forming innovation ecosystems and engaging in start-up-activities. Hopefully, our nice spring weather inspired you to hold fruitful conversations. Today we have a good chance to continue these discussions and to strengthen our economic cooperation even further.

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At the European level, Finland and Luxembourg are very like-minded – not forgetting that we are also founding members of the euro area. We believe in the benefits of free trade both at the European and international level. We are firm supporters of the internal market and advocates of strengthening it, particularly in services and digital products.

Nationally, both Luxembourg and Finland face similar challenges. We both want to diversify our economies and find new sources of growth. We also believe in partnerships between the private and public sectors.

Both Luxembourg and Finland are very active in promoting trade and investment abroad. It would be very interesting to hear from the business communities represented here about what has worked and what has not worked so well in these actions.

We have also both needed to transform our economies to respond to new challenges. Strict budgetary discipline and economic reforms are necessary conditions to remain competitive as nations. This sounds easy when expressed in a couple of sentences, but your former Prime Minister, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, hit the nail on the head by saying: “We all know what to do, we just don’t know how to get re-elected after we’ve done it.”

Actually, I have developed Mr. Juncker’s clever thought even further: What if the voters eventually get tired of no one doing anything? What if they start saying: “Politicians all know what to do, and if they do it, we will re-elect them.”

Taking the previous quote into consideration, I would say that it is much better to take the lead than just wait for things to get better by themselves. It is also encouraging to note that the working governments in Luxembourg and Finland have begun introducing reforms that are absolutely unavoidable.

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I am delighted to note the presence of members of the Luxembourg government and I very much look forward to hearing your ideas.

The floor is yours today, so please do not hesitate to speak your mind.

Thank you! Villmools merci!