Mr President, The people of Finland re-elected you as President of the Republic in a historic election last Sunday, when you received a majority of the votes in the first round. It was the first time that this has happened since the direct popular vote was introduced for presidential elections in 1994.
You sought a renewed mandate from voters in an election featuring an array of different candidates. You took part in numerous election debates as a candidate alongside the other candidates, there for the voters to judge. The renewed mandate obtained in this way gives you, Mr President, an excellent foundation for the work ahead.
In accordance with the Constitution, Finland’s foreign policy is directed by the President of the Republic in cooperation with the Government. The presidential election demonstrated that a particularly broad consensus prevails over the fundamentals of Finland’s foreign and security policy. The election has given you very considerable backing for continuing this policy.
The duty to direct the country's foreign policy in cooperation with the Government was written into the Constitution in 2000. The responsibility for putting this duty into effect has been duly shared by a total of seven prime ministers and two presidents to date. Your experience in this regard already includes cooperation with three prime ministers. From my own experience, I can say that this system has worked well.
From the Government’s perspective, this cooperation is not merely a duty but, rather, a substantial resource. When governments change, the directing of foreign policy benefits from the experience and continuity brought by the President. Especially for a small country like Finland, it is essential to be able to transcend the boundary between the Government and the opposition when determining the basic stance of foreign and security policy.
Changes in our foreign and security policy operating environment will continue. Along with strengthening the stability of neighbouring areas, we must continue to resolve global issues such as climate change and the refugee crisis.
The election debates also touched on challenges and sensitive areas in our country's internal affairs. The primary responsibility for managing these lies with Parliament and with the Government, which must enjoy the confidence of Parliament. This division of responsibilities, also outlined in the Constitution, functions well and ensures that the President can concentrate on the principal presidential duty, that of directing Finland’s foreign policy.
In internal affairs, the focus is primarily on the President’s role in fostering national unity and as a symbol of that unity. In this, you, Mr President, have continued along the path laid out by all of your predecessors. The value of unity is thrown into sharp relief this year in particular, a year of remembrance in which we commemorate the centenary of the Finnish Civil War, which tore open the fabric of our newly independent nation.
President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö, please accept the sincere congratulations, and assurances of the highest consideration, of the Government and its officials.