Foreign Minister Timo Soini’s message to Mediation Makes Sense - 10 years since President Ahtisaari’s Nobel Peace Prize Gala Dinner
Wednesday 10 October 2018 at 18:30, at Ritarihuone, Helsinki
President Ahtisaari, Dear Martti, High Representative Mogherini,
Honorable guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
This year, we are celebrating the legacy of 100 years of Finnish diplomacy. Peace diplomacy is and will continue to be at the core of Finnish foreign policy.
For Finns the year 2018 is also a year of recollection and reflection on how our own nation has survived violent conflicts. A hundred years ago, we found a way to come together and consolidate peace.
This evening’s celebration is another reminder that peace can overcome conflict. President Ahtisaari has taught us - in his words and deeds - that if there is a will there is a way to solve all conflicts.
However, at a global level there is a growing concern. The international system is under pressure. We can no longer take the rules-based order - nor the conflict resolution - for granted.
But as the former Secretary-General, Kofi Annan - a good friend of President Ahtisaari – used to say: we should always try to see "the light at the end of the tunnel”. And indeed, we can see a growing support for the Secretary-General Gueterres’s vision that conflict prevention should be the priority for all of us.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The promotion of mediation is also one of my own priorities. Building on Finland’s traditional role as supporter of international efforts for peace and stability, we have established an active profile in mediation - in close collaboration with our partners, such as the Crisis Management Initiative.
Finland’s approach to mediation is holistic. We need to give voice to those who are most affected by conflicts, yet the most invisible at negotiation tables, namely women and youth.
This is an imperative if we want to achieve long lasting solutions.
Therefore it is vital that knowledge and experience are passed on to future mediators. The annual "Ahtisaari days” focuses on mediation education in schools. It is an excellent example of how mediation skills can be taught from childhood onwards. In addition to homes, schools should foster systematically the gift of listening. Only if we listen and learn to understand other – different – views, we can start to build compromises.
Tonight we celebrate the 10-year anniversary of President Martti Ahtisaari’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Prize was awarded to him for his great achievements over more than three decades in resolving conflicts.
President Ahtisaari’s mediation legacy is strong. And Finland has benefitted from it enormously. The Nobel Prize has been also a personal inspiration for many people. Myself included. It demonstrates that: if you work hard, don’t give in, keep your goals clear and stay the course. Anything is possible.