Speech by the President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Government lunch on 5 April 2013

Let me start by thanking you for the warm welcome my wife and I have received here in Denmark and for the inspiring discussions I had with the Prime Minister today. It´s a privilege to have lunch with you here in this wonderful venue of Christiansborg with such a rich history.

I will focus on three themes that unite us: the economy, Nordic cooperation and the Arctic.

Finland and Denmark share the same basic values and views on how to develop our societies. As small export orientated economies, dependent on the global development, it is important that Finland and Denmark continuously try to learn from each other. Danes are well known for the ability to get things done in an efficient manner and at the same time enjoying life in the spirit of Danish ”hygge”. Denmark seems to be the country of smart solutions to complex problems. According to the PISA-results Finns know how to teach, but learning is even more important. I strongly believe that we have a lot to learn from Denmark. Yesterday´s seminar at Danish Industry showed for example that Finnish and Danish industries have complementary know-how in clean technologies. This provides a perfect base for further development of our trade and economic cooperation also in third markets.


The Nordic family has always been of great importance to us. We Finns have a strong Nordic identity. It is based on common history, values, culture and a way of looking at the world. At the moment Nordic cooperation is experiencing a renaissance. It has strong support among the Finnish people and we want to play an active role in developing it.

The Nordic brand is well-known internationally. We should together use it for promoting our economies and exports. Green growth is one area where such cooperation would be of mutual benefit.

A field where Nordic cooperation has renewed vitality is foreign-, security- and defence policy. As the chairman of the Nordic defense cooperation NORDEFCO this year, Finland aims to take the defence policy cooperation further. Our goal is to agree on a common vision for the cooperation by the end of the year. We welcome new ideas that can enhance NORDEFCO which now covers procurement, training and education, capabilities and operations.

The Arctic region is another area with strong potential for cooperation between Finland and Denmark. Finland is clearly to be defined as an Arctic country. Our climate, nature, geography and experiences have all together shaped our Arctic identity. As a matter of fact, every third person living above the 60th parallel north is a Finn. Finland has advanced Arctic know-how with long traditions in Arctic navigation and shipbuilding technology. About 60 % of world´s icebreakers are made in Finland. Another area of Finnish expertise is mining technology. As a result of the rapid change in the Arctic region we are now preparing a revised Arctic strategy. It will be presented this spring. Our vision is to be an active Arctic actor that knows how to combine the sensitive Arctic environment and the economical opportunities in a sustainable way.

We see Denmark as a key Arctic partner both bilaterally as well as within the international organizations. We are both members of the Arctic Council and we share the goal of enhancing its work. The ministerial meeting of the Arctic council in Kiruna in May should agree on the observer-issue including the adoption of EU as an observer.


Last but not least. Finland and Denmark share the same views on how to develop EU-cooperation and strengthen the EU. In the current situation our primary aim should be to restore confidence in Europe. As a result of different solutions regarding the euro we have different starting points but a common interest in the development of the euro-zone. A close dialogue on these issues and the whole EU-agenda is in our mutual interest.

The international system is under constant change. We are facing many challenges related to the economy, environment and security. Our countries have always managed to turn challenges into opportunities. I´m sure we will do so again. Let´s learn from our mutual experiences and strengthen our cooperation bilaterally, in the EU, Nordic and Arctic context as well as globally.