Federal Councillor and Mrs. Villiger, Your Excellency, Dear Swiss Friends, ladies and Gentlemen,
May I thank Your Excellency for the kind invitaion to attend this dinner arranged on the occasion of the visit to Finland by Federal Councillor and Mrs. Villiger from Switzerland.
I thank you, Honoured Colleague, for the friendly and understanding words extended to us, the hosts of the visit and the Finnish Defence Forces. I hope that you, our guests, have enjoyed your stay here at least half as much as we have enjoyed your company. As far as I can see, the mutual understanding
has been complete during the whole visit.
Having assumed my duties as Minister of Defence, I was very pleased to find out that the first official visit to Finland would be made by my Swiss Defence Minister Colleague. Is has been our aim to present Finland and our Defence Forces in such a versatile way as only admitted by time. We appreciate the great interest you have shown towards our Defence Forces. We value the mutual relations, and hope that our co-operation will continue according to the expectations and hopes of both parties also in the future. For the exchange of experiences, the meetings between the representatives of the neutral countries are of great significance. To emphasize this, the arrangement of meetings between the Defence Ministers of the neutral countries could be considered in the future. Open and direct relations in the right kind of communication atmosphere will promote the joint effort of the neutral countries to secure peace as part of the general peace efforts.
You Swiss are very welcome guests for many reasons. We know your strong will to defend your country and the high level of your Defence Forces, which stands as an example for each neutral country. Close co-operation in culture and economy, only to mention a few points in common, has continued for long between our countries.
Neutrality, love for our native country and a strong will to defend it are values we do not sacrifice in any conditions. To be able to retain our position also in the future, we must understand the importance of national defence as a guarantor of well-being and a stable idea of security policy. To have a good foundation for the stability, we must
provide for the development of our Defence Forces. As part of our security policy, the Finnish Defence Forces have to be, preferrably, a few steps ahead rather than one step behind. The Defence Forces' development programmes of the 1990's in our countries
are a sign of this developments. Finnish Defence Forces are the
process of reforming administration, organisation and
training. We demand efficiency in order to be sure
of the strong will among our citizens to defend
their country also in the future. Today this will
is strong in Finland, something we could see, Dear
Colleague, yesterday and today as we interviewed
conscripts who have done their military service
and will be mustered out and return to civil
conditions this week.
I hope that you, Mr. Minister, have had a pleasant
and rewarding visit to Finland. Even the weather in
Finland has been quite favourable. I believe that
we succeeded even in eliminating the coldly blowing
wind with the warm atmosphere among good friends.
At its best this could be seen during that Lappish
evening at Metsä-Luosto, which left us all with
an unforgettable memory. And I cannot help mentioning
in this context the musical virtuosity of my
colleague! I am convinced that during a possible
future visit to either country, both parties will
have good friends to meet and welcome them.
May I propose a toast to Federal Councillor and Mrs. Villiger and to the good relations of our countries.