Speech by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö at the dinner in honour of the state visit of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, 10 May 2016

It is a great honour and pleasure for my wife and I to welcome Your Royal Highnesses on your state visit to Finland. Your visit confirms the close relationship between our countries.

As you are probably aware, I lived in your country for several years due to a position I held at the time. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to experience Luxembourg’s hospitality and vibrant society during that period. I believe that this state visit will provide us with opportunities to further extend our cooperation.

During your visit, we will discuss issues that concern both Luxembourg and Finland. I note that it is very easy for us to find common ground on most of the issues in question. We are both relatively small countries that are reliant on international cooperation. In addition, our economies are dependent on international economic trends and the effectiveness of the related rules.

Luxembourg is both a political and an economic success story. Your country is well-known and appreciated all over the world, which has been confirmed in events such as your selection as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. You have borne responsibility in areas such as development cooperation, humanitarian operations and crisis management. You have a wide circle of close friends in the world community.

Luxembourg is also an economic pioneer. You have been able to create a diversified and service-based economy whose fruits benefit all citizens in your country. You also play a key role in bolstering the ground rules of the international economy.

* * *

Luxembourg’s twelfth Presidency of the EU, which occurred last year, coincided with a very difficult period for the European Union. On very short notice, you had to handle the immigration crisis, which was a cause of anxiety all over Europe.

People across Europe are thanking you for the energy and diligence with which you faced the crisis. We are well aware that the crisis will continue, but I believe that the key issue was the rapid response by the EU.

I am also delighted that we have taken such similar approaches to handling the crisis. We both support European solutions and their efficient implementation in Member States. In addition, we have both followed this line in practice.

In connection with your visit, I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss other challenges facing the continent, including the security situation in our neighbouring regions, economic developments, the environment and sustainable development. I feel sure that we will find a number of ways of pursuing the related goals.

* * *

Diplomatic relations between Finland and Luxembourg were established in 1921 and intensified even further when Finland joined the European Union. The last state visit made from Finland to Luxembourg occurred in 2008. On that occasion, our countries engaged in interesting discussions on our mutual challenges. I welcome the opportunity to continue this conversation, under new circumstances in which our relationship remains as strong as ever.

We are clearly like-minded countries within the European Union. We defend the common rules and compliance with them. We want the EU to respond to both internal and external challenges, while complying with its own rules.

In international politics, we tend to find each other in the group of countries that emphasises international law, human rights and economic justice. We do not accept that might is right, or that minorities or groups that are otherwise vulnerable should fall victim to power politics.

In addition, our trade relations are intensifying. After a mild downturn, the value of our mutual trade has risen and diversified rapidly. I am particularly delighted by the cross-border cooperation between small businesses in Finland and Luxembourg. This is reflected in the programme for your visit.

I am also pleased to note that our cultural relations have remained very close. Finnish dancers, musicians, conductors, directors, visual artists and photographers have found an inspiring milieu and friendly audience in Luxembourg. Artists from Luxembourg and Finland seem to have little trouble in finding each other.

* * *

I am particularly glad that your visit will provide us with the opportunity to showcase Finland’s history, culture, education, research and natural environment. I hope that you and your delegation leave Finland with a general picture of how we aim to develop our country.

I see many opportunities – from which both of us will benefit – in cooperation between our countries. Our mutual strengths are both compatible and complementary. Hopefully, you and your delegation will also gain insights that we did not anticipate when planning for your visit.

Your Royal Highnesses, I would like to thank you once again for visiting Finland. I will now raise a toast in honour of Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg and the excellent relations between our two countries!

Thank you!