Press release 182/2014
25 August 2014
At the Annual Meeting of Finnish Heads of Mission, Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Lenita Toivakka and Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto reflected on Finland’s foreign policy in the new international situation. How do Finland’s security, trade policy interests, development cooperation or humanitarian assistance look now in the Ministers’ assessments?
“Many people in Finland ask whether the visible return of power politics will also lead to a return of the world of the Cold War, whether the possibility of hot war has increased and whether new types of threats are also focused on Finland. These questions are understandable, and the respondent must be able to give pertinent and reasoned replies,” Foreign Minister Tuomioja said.
The Minister sought the direction for a solution from open review of the situation. “Openly encountering the most threatening possibilities and analysis help in repelling them. Keeping them at bay is both necessary and possible.”
Tuomioja did not believe that the principles of Finland’s foreign policy and security criteria in the end would change. “The Cold War divided the world in a way that left neutrality very little room to manoeuvre. There is no returning to that world because the majority of the world’s peoples and states will no longer be submitted to such a dichotomy. This is certainly also in line with the thinking of the vast majority of Finns.”
The Minister pointed out that there is still a world of mutual dependence alongside the world of power politics. “It is still necessary to respond to the mega-challenge that the transition to ecologically, socially and economically sustainable development means.” The return of power politics can become an obstruction for example to finding solutions to halt climate change and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the Minister continued. “We cannot afford such a world.”
Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Lenita Toivakka reviewed the international situation from the perspective of Finland’s economic external relations.
“Finland's foreign policy and trade policy must be in balance. We must ensure the economic base of our well-being, that is, our exports,” the Minister said. “But even though we are a trading nation, our values are not for sale. We must defend international law, because it is a small country’s protection.”
Toivakka stressed that Russia is still an important export market for Finland, but she emphasized the possibilities offered particularly in Europe and the United States. She considered it important that the EU advances in its trade negotiations with the United States and other partners.
The Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade said that in future trade missions will focus on Finland’s main markets. In Toivakka’s view, making the domestic activities of the Team Finland network more efficient and supporting the internationalization of small and medium-sized enterprises are also central objectives.
Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto said that the recent crises on different continents have reminded us of the role of development cooperation and humanitarian assistance in an effective foreign policy.
In many crises, the legal code of war and the principles of humanitarian law are lost, the Development Minister stated. “Violence must be stopped, and the only real message to the perpetrators of violence is: You will be held responsible for your actions, and the international community will see to that.”
Haavisto said that Finns support development cooperation. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs’ opinion poll conducted in July found that 82 per cent of the population consider development cooperation to be important. “All human beings ultimately have the same concerns: food, education, health, equality, jobs, safety, a well-functioning society, human rights. Development is about nothing more unusual than that.”
The Ministers serving at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs addressed Finland’s Ambassadors posted throughout the world at the Annual Meeting of Finnish Heads of Mission in Helsinki. This Annual Meeting continues until Wednesday, 27 August.
Some of the speeches given at the Annual Meeting are broadcast live on the Foreign Ministry’s website, at http://videonet.fi/formin/live/. The Annual Meeting can also be followed on Twitter at #slsk14, and on the Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page atwww.facebook.com/ulkoministerio.
Recorded webcasts, speeches and press releases can also be found afterwards on the Foreign Ministry’s website, at http://formin.finland.fi.
Further information: Tero Shemeikka, Press Attaché to Foreign Minister Tuomioja, mobile tel. +358 40 515 1097; Miika Tomi, Press Attaché to European Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Toivakka, mobile tel. +358 50 574 0507; Joel Linnainmäki, Press Attaché to Development Minister Pekka Haavisto, mobile tel. +358 40 522 9869