"Accept the challenge of the new world"
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to see such an international group of exceptional people gathered here in Helsinki. Your presence here is a reassurance to us that even small countries can play an important part in the construction of the new world.
Despite being defence minister of a small country in a remote corner of the world I would like today to widen our horizons by looking at global issues of development.
But before I do so let me first take a quick recourse to Finnish history and to look at the place of the individual in this changing world.
One of our former presidents, Juho Kusti Paasikivi, who was president immediately after the war, had a favorite quotation which reminds me of the theme of your conference.
He used to say: "the beginning of all wisdom is the recognition of facts".
Nowadays this is, perhaps, easier said than done. Facts change so quickly that it is difficult to recognise them. Let alone gain some wisdom through their recognition.
I suspect that if Paasikivi were with us today he might be tempted to adjust his quotation slightly. He might indeed agree with you and say that "the beginning of all wisdom is the acceptance of the challenge of the new world". That was after all what the postwar years were all about. And that is what the new era is all about.
Accepting the challenge of the new world means different things to people in different roles and positions. For me personally one of the hardest challenges to accept is that the role of the nation state is changing.
Earlier the nation-state was the only proper acotor in the international arena. Nowadays this is no longer so. On the one hand supranational organisations, such as the European Community and the European Court of Justice, are assuming an increasingly prominent role.
On the other hand, the individual is no longer tied to his nation-state in the same manner as he or she was before.
The Paris Declaration of November 1990, the culmination of the so-called Helsinki process, made it abundantly clear that in today's world it is not only states that have rights and duties; that there are times when the rights of the individual override those of the nation state.
This is certainly the right direction. We have witnessed enough tyranny by totalitarian states to understand that the individual has to be placed at the center of our international system, what ever that system might be in the future.
During this conference you have been dealing with questions concerning the new East-West relationship, the situation in Eastern Central Europe and the emerging new Europe.
I imagine that you might have expected me to speak about security in this changing world of ours. In a way I will, but instead of concentrating on European issues I would like now to introduce a wider, global perspective.
The reason for this is my fear that we, Europeans, are becoming more and more Eurocentered. We speak about European integration, European political union, European architecture, European this and that.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. We need to talk about European issues because Europe is changing. But this discussion should not take place at the cost of wider global concerns.
It should not. But it is. Europe is becoming more and more inward looking.
This trend is recognisable both in our discussions and in our investments. Instead of paying attention to the needs of our
more distant neighbours were are choosing our immediate concerns instead.
You are all aware of the regretable fact that less and less money is being spent in aiding the developing world. You are also aware that there are reasons for this phenomenon. There are new independent states that have to be helped to their feet here in Europe. And there budget deficits everywhere you look. Not the least here in Finland.
It would be very easy for me to stand here before you and demand that more money should be invested in the developing countries. Yet money is not the cure-all for everything. In addition to monetary investments we have to spend time in rethinking the whole concept of development. This is necessary because it is quite clear that old solution do not function as well as we would like them to work.
I am not going to give you a comprihensive analysis of all the problems in development cooperation. I could not even if I wanted. Instead I would like to call your attention to an often forgotten part of development work: United Nations peacekeeping.
United Nations peacekeeping promotes development in two concrete ways. First of all it does so by bringing stability to the area in which it is applied. This is very important since peace and stability are the prerequisite for all development.
Second of all United Nations peacekeeping promotes development by assisting people in need. UN medical troops help local populations where ever they are. They provide medication and
shelter for the sick and frequently operate on injured or ill
local people. In fact, humanitarian help is very much part of
the work of UN peacekeeping operations.
This work is very important since we all know that simple cease
fire solutions are not sufficient in themselves. Unless they are
followed by immediate steps to improve the living conditions of
local inhabitants, cease fires may not prove long lasting.
I wanted to call attention to this aspect of UN peacekeeping
operations because I think it is important and because it is so
often overlooked. Nevertheless, it is important to recognise
that UN peacekeeping operations are, and should remain,
temporary solutions. This means that after the first crucial
steps are taken by UN peacekeeping troops, responsibility should
be allocated to other UN-organisations.
One such organisation is UNICEF.
As the chairperson of UNICEF in Finland and the chairperson of
the international standing group of the national UNICEF
committees I would like to say a few words about this important
First of all it is a pleasure to note that you "JCs" have been
very involved in supporting the work of UNICEF. I am grateful to
you for your efforts and I do hope that you keep it up.
Second of all, I would like to take an opportunity for a short
commercial break on behalf of UNICEF:
Christmas is approaching. Please do not forget that the best way
to convey your Christmas greetings is to use UNICEF cards. They
are beautiful and by using them you promote a very important
Ladies and Gentelemen,
It is a great honour to have had this opportunity to share with
you some of my thoughts concerning the challanges of the new
world. As I have indicated I consider it very important to
recognise, once again, that "we are all in this boat together".
Genuine development can only be achieved when we work together.
This meanst that the times when development work was divided
between givers and takers are over. Instead of direct assistance
which causes dependency and alters the natural flow of trade we
have to move towards cooperation and joint action. Only then can
we form a true partnership between the North and the South. A
partnership that makes it possible for us to meet the challanges
of the new world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my hope that your conference continues successfully and
that you return to Finland many times in the future. Thank you.