Speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Mr. Timo Soini, at the beginning of the reception to mark the opening of the Finnish Presidency on 21 November 2018, Strasbourg.
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It is an honor for me to welcome you to this reception, which marks the opening of the Finnish Presidency of the Committee of Ministers. This a rather unique opportunity - more than 20 years have passed since Finland chaired the Committee of Ministers the previous time.
I also wish to use this occasion and extend our sincere gratitude to Croatia for your outstanding work as a Chair over the past six months.
We are all experiencing that the world in which we are operating in is rapidly becoming more challenging. Our organization is currently also under huge pressure. The very core of the Council of Europe is still there, unchanged. The aim of our organization is to build stability and peace, and closer unity between Europeans based on a set of values that we all share – democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The restoration of these very values is at the center of the priorities of the Finnish Presidency.
I would like to draw your attention to our Presidency Logo, which reflects both the Finland’s national bird, whooper swan and the logo of the Council of Europe. This symbol has been designed by a Finnish advertising agency, which employs also disabled persons. Inclusiveness and promotion of the vulnerable groups are also the principles that we stand for.
Today we are also launching our social media campaign #WeSupportHumanRights. You all can participate in this campaign – already here. You can take a photo of you with a placard indicating the right which you would like to promote and send the photo in social media by the campaign hashtag (#WeSupportHumanRights). This campaign will last until the end of our Presidency, so don't worry, if not today, you can join us later. We all – Secretary General, my Croatian colleague and myself – have already taken part in it.
I would like once more to welcome you all to celebrate the start of our Presidency. I assure you that we will always be at your disposal in order to better serve the benefit of our Organization and our citizens.
I look forward to a productive half a year as a Chairman and count on your continued support and co-operation.
I thank you for your attention.