Speech by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö to the new Government on 24 June 2014

Esteemed Prime Minister, distinguished Members of Government,

In the election of the Prime Minister, Parliament has placed its confidence in you. I congratulate you on your election. With you as its leader, today is the first day in office of the 73rd Government of independent Finland.

Your Government inherits its foundation from its predecessor, but what it inherits most of all is a great deal of work. The much-debated and repeatedly ‘decided’ structural reforms must now be settled and implemented for good. Demanding times lie ahead of you.

Demanding times are also an opportunity. They are an opportunity for all of us to show that this nation can still override hardships, even those thrown at us by the outside world.

Let’s show them!

This is also an opportunity for the Government to prove its worth. There was talk of a ‘mini government programme’. This Government will also have a ‘mini’ term of office, but that doesn’t rule out our having a ‘maxi’ Government.

Show us!

In my speech to your predecessor I spoke about the problem with forecasts: they too easily lead to “quarterly” politics where immediate gains are chosen over solutions to future challenges. We Finns have the sense to appreciate decisions that seem painful at the time as long as you know the gain will follow later. 

We place a lot of focus on how our actions appear from the outside. What we should now focus on is what our actions lead to, for we live in troubled times.

The severe crisis in Ukraine continues. Finding solutions and providing support are now the most important priorities. At the same time, we must also assess what all of this means – and what it does not mean – for Finland.

One conclusion is obvious. We must take care of our own defence capability.  This requires investment, perhaps greater than we have so far discussed.

There is another equally obvious conclusion to make: it is important to develop international cooperation on security policy and defence. This is our common duty. At the Kultaranta talks it was proposed that we assess the various sectors of our international security cooperation. This is an issue we can revisit at the meeting between the President of the Republic and the Cabinet Committee on Foreign and Security Policy.

Our country now needs confidence and courage. Decision-makers are expected to secure the setting for everyday life. A permanent vote of confidence is needed on this. Decision-makers are also expected to leave room for creativity and to understand both success and failure. Encouragement is needed, even if this means encouragement to do things differently.

I would like to wish the Government and its members courage and a sense of responsibility in your work for the good of Finland!  So – show us!