Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the promotion and appointment of cadets on 25 August 2023

Photo: Juhani Kandell/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

Esteemed Cadets,

I congratulate you on the completion of the Bachelor of Military Sciences degree. I hereby promote all you cadets holding the rank of second lieutenant and ensign to the rank of lieutenant and appoint you to the position of an officer or a fixed-term position of a junior officer.

You have completed your studies, and next you are taking on your first work tasks in the Finnish Defence Forces and Finnish Border Guard.

You are starting your officer’s careers in the age of growing uncertainty. Russia has brought war to Europe with its unlawful invasion of Ukraine. Geopolitical tensions are building up all over the world. In addition, we can expect the challenges to increase if the international community fails in its efforts to mitigate climate change. Technological development also brings new challenges, even threats.

You are the first Cadet Course to graduate in a militarily allied Finland. This will have a major impact on your service careers. The number and duration of foreign postings will increase in the future. We practise actively with other NATO countries and are committed to NATO’s collective defence system. During your careers, most of you will serve in the NATO command structure and its various agencies.

You succeeded in your studies because you kept on working persistently regardless of the circumstances. In the era of military alliance, officers must have better language skills and be more prepared to pack their suitcases than before. As the scope of duties expands, it also requires more flexibility from your loved ones. You will be able to meet these challenges when you let your actions speak for you. That is what has helped you succeed up to now as well.

Being part of an alliance does not change everything. Even in the future, we are responsible for defending our own country. As part of the alliance, Finland is a provider of security. The foundations of fulfilling this duty are the Finnish defence system, based on conscription and large reserves, and the exceptionally high willingness to defend our country. Our allies know our readiness, and we should cherish the good reputation we have.

Your example will have a great role to play in how the future generations see the importance of national defence. You have a big responsibility. You were selected to the training programme because we can be sure of your will to serve a higher purpose, the security of our home country. Continue to develop yourselves and take care of your own and your subordinates’ functional capacity. Both physically and psychologically. When you take care of yourselves, you can take care of others as well.

Esteemed Rector of the Finnish National Defence University, lecturers and staff,

Thanks to the work you have done, I am convinced that our young officers will succeed in their future endeavours. It is being said that officers acquire their competence under normal conditions, but their skills are measured in emergency conditions. As we know the high standard of Finnish military education, we can be at ease and conclude that the threshold to test those skills will continue to remain high.

Young officers,

I congratulate you and your families on this prestigious day of celebration. I wish you the best of success in your future duties.