Your Excellency, Mr. President – dear Guðni,
Dear Ms. Read – dear Eliza,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
on my own and on my wife’s behalf, I want to express our deepest gratitude for the invitation to visit your beautiful country. We made our first state visit to Iceland over nine years ago. We will never forget that. Throughout these years, I have very much enjoyed the close and easy co-operation between Finland and Iceland.
Finland and Iceland truly have a lot in common. We are both part of the Nordic family, but the others find our languages impossible to understand. That might be the reason why we understand each other. We share a peculiar, dark sense of humor that the others may also have difficulties in comprehending. But we have a very, very light mind. We find solace and inspiration in literature. I have been told that Iceland is the only country that beats Finland in the number of books annually published per capita.
As we celebrate 75 years of Finnish-Icelandic diplomatic relations, the bond between our countries is strong and getting ever stronger.
There is a saying that you never really know who your friends are until the ice breaks. After Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine on the 24th of February, Europe’s security order has been on thin ice. In this new reality, Finland and Sweden decided to apply for NATO membership. I want to thank Iceland for having been among the first ones, maybe even the first, to ratify our NATO membership, along with the other Nordic friends.
It was with much appreciation that I noted your words, Guðni, at the opening of the Althing: “But now, as then, our peace and security are predicated upon other nations also enjoying peace and security. Hence we support the decision of our fellow-Nordic nations, Finland and Sweden, to join NATO.” Thank you for this.
Truly, to build lasting peace and security, we need each other. The Nordics are one of the most integrated regions in the world. But thus far, we have had differing approaches to security. This is about to change. When we are all NATO members, I believe that we will see a lot of Nordic cooperation within the Alliance. And that gives room for our co-operation in different areas, when we feel safe.
“If one looks at the glacier for long enough, words cease to have any meaning on God’s earth.” These words from Halldór Laxness’ masterpiece “Under the Glacier” sprang to my mind when embarking on this trip. Tomorrow we will visit the Langjökull Glacier. This beautiful glacier is retreating rapidly. It is our common responsibility to protect our arctic nature, to make sure that the future generations still have glaciers to marvel at. Climate and the Arctic are important priorities for both Finland and Iceland and I look forward to intensifying co-operation also on these topics.
But now, please join me in raising a toast to the close and warm relationship between our countries, and people. Let us continue to strengthen and deepen our co-operation.