Speech by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Mr. Timo Soini, at the flag ceremony to mark the opening of the Finnish Presidency on 21 November 2018, Strasbourg.
Minister Pejčinović Burić, Secretary General Jagland, (The Mayor, M Ries), and Deputy Mayor Rafik-Elmrini
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First I would like to thank the City of Strasbourg, the Mayor, Mr Roland Ries, and the Deputy Mayor, Madam Nawel RafikElmrini, for organizing this special event today.
Let me also extend my gratitude to the Secretary General and all other representatives of the Council of Europe for their valuable cooperation in preparing our Presidency.
As the Chair of the Committee of Ministers, we follow the footsteps of the Croatian Chairmanship – and here I’d like to once more thank my colleague, the Minister of Croatia, for her leadership as the Chair (of the Committee of Ministers).
The Presidency of Finland is starting in a challenging political climate. Our aim is to enhance the common European values, the international convention and the rule of law system, and the core principles of the Council of Europe. The overall theme of our Presidency is "The Essence of Europe – Advancing Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law for All. "
As part of the Presidency, we will have a lot of cooperation and joined activities with the City of Strasbourg, related particularly to our cultural program. We hope that the Presidency will be visible also in the streets of this beautiful city.
One part of our cultural program is the Finnish Christmas Village at the Place Gutenberg.
Finland is very pleased and honored to be the invited guest country at the traditional and famous Christmas Market of Strasbourg, and we are happy to bring some special Christmas spirit to the citizens of Strasbourg, and to numerous visitors.
I would like to invite all of you to visit the Finnish Christmas Village, and to participate in many other events presenting the Finnish music, cinema and other fields of culture. You can enjoy, for example, the music played by our traditional national instrument kantele and performance of our famous deaf rap artist Signmark.
Thank you for attending this ceremony. We look forward to cooperating with all of you, and I wish you all peaceful Christmas time.