Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the promotion and appointment of cadets on 28 August 2020

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 lieutenant, junior grade 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 now completed your education at the National Defence University. You are ready to take up your duties in the Finnish Defence Forces and the Border Guard in different parts of our land. Your future tasks will give you a chance to show your skills and competence in practice. At the same time, they will prepare you for even more demanding duties.

Take active care of your competence and observe your environment. Similarly, we as a nation need to be prepared for different changes of situation and even threat scenarios. The crises and disruptions facing societies have become increasingly multifaceted. The change in the operating environment has emphasised the importance of readiness and international cooperation. For the Defence Forces, it means the need to keep an up-to-date operational picture and maintain force capabilities. And the ability to engage in international exercises and crisis management operations. In your future duties, you are an important part of Finland’s readiness.

Pandemics are an acknowledged threat, but the coronavirus still took the whole world by surprise. Its impacts have touched everyone of us in an unprecedented manner. And the situation is not over yet. However, we are now better prepared to face the potential new wave.

During the coronavirus pandemic, staff from the Defence Forces and the Border Guard has been needed in many important tasks. The Border Guard has been performing reinforced control on all our borders. The special arrangements will continue. In spring, official assistance was requested from the Defence Forces and duly provided. The readiness and capacity to provide support was good. The Defence Forces and the Border Guard also changed the way they operate to prevent coronavirus infections. It did not take much time to adapt to the new situation. The key tasks were not at risk at any point.

Particularly in times like these, the responsibility of the superiors for the well-being of their subordinates becomes emphasised. As leaders, you are expected to take good care of your subordinates, including their competence and learning as well as their health and well-being. As you are acting as instructors and leaders of conscripts and reservists, you have a key role in ensuring that your troops have the necessary competence and ability to take action in any situation. You will certainly meet these expectations.

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

I thank you for a job well done. You have provided young officers with a sound basis to serve in this demanding profession. Thanks to your first-class education, the skills and capabilities of the Finnish Defence Forces and the Border Guard will continue to be maintained at a high level.

Young Officers!

I congratulate you and your relatives on this memorable day and wish you every success in your future duties.