President Sauli Niinistö in his traditional New Year’s speech, he highlighted four key themes: Covid, security policy, climate change, and youth well-being.
In his speech, Niinistö emphasized the importance of different opinions in a democracy, but warned of the dangers of strong disagreement.
"In the spring of 2020, the virus appeared as a common enemy that everyone fights together … now the feeling is different," he spoke of pandemic fatigue and clashes over masks, restrictions and vaccinations.
"We all know the same way" Niinistö spoke of his frustration at the ongoing Covid setbacks. "However, the virus does not care about our fatigue or our feelings. Now we are being asked to be flexible over and over again."
No more areas of influence
The President of Finland also reflected on the crisis in Ukraine and the current global tensions, saying that the post-Cold War era was over and the policy of the great powers was changing.
"But whenever the shape of geopolitics changes, the effects are also felt in countries smaller than the great powers. Sometimes especially from them."
Mood perceptions are outdated, and according to Niinistö, Russia’s recent demands on the United States and NATO to expand the alliance also affect Europe.
However, Niinistö called on the EU to play a more active role and said that Europe should do more than listen.
"The sovereignty of several Member States, including Sweden and Finland, has been challenged outside the Union. This makes the EU a party. The EU must not be content with the role of technical coordinator of sanctions alone."
Niinistö reiterated Finland’s opportunity to join NATO.
"Finland’s room for maneuver and freedom of choice also includes the opportunity to join a military alliance and apply for NATO membership, if we so decide."
Young people need adults
Niinistö’s New Year’s speeches have repeatedly addressed young people and climate change. This year was no exception.
The president said his generation grew at a time when things were gradually improving. According to the President, things are different now.
"Today, young people are being tested. The pandemic has taken a disproportionate part of their lives from them," he said. "Growing social malaise, declining physical fitness and stagnation in education are worrying signs. Understanding and supporting an adult is a great gift for a young person."
Source: The Nordic Page