President Sauli Niinistö Highlights Loneliness in His Inauguration Speech, Greets Honorary Guard in Snow Storm

 

The inauguration of President Sauli Niinistö at the Parliament House on Thursday, February 1, 2018.

Filming and editing: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

On Thursday noon, wind blew thick, wet snowflakes in the face of a man descending the narrow steps of the Parliament House in dark clothes, appearing a bit cartoonish with his bright, white gloves and balancing a dark cylinder hat on his head.

When he had reached midway, he raised his hat, waved it to greet the crowd — bordered to the opposite side of Mannerheimintie — and the guard of honor standing below the stairs. After a few drum rolls and snippets of the National Anthem, the soldiers, who had started becoming stiff like the statue of President Ståhlberg next to them, and encrusted in snow for all the waiting for the president, and so when President Niinistö greeted them by saying “Good day, guard of honor,” the jaegers exclaimed: “Good day, Mr President of the Republic!” Such an exclamation and honor brought a smile on their face and, surely, warmed their heart for all the effort.

About 20 minutes earlier, President Sauli Niinistö had sworn that he will serve the country to the best of his ability. After a landslide victory in the presidential elections, he had arrived at the plenary session of the parliament for his inauguration for his second term, wearing a dark tailcoat and the Grand Cross of the White Rose hanging around his neck in a chain of gold.

President Sauli Niinistö descending the stairs of the Parliament House in Helsinki during his inauguration on Thursday, February 1, 2018. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

After the greetings, Niinistö delivered a speech, where he highlighted many of the themes that he has spoken about in previous years. “The past six years have been turbulent. There have been conflicts both in Europe, its surroundings and the world over. These conflicts have tested our regional stability and those four pillars that are crucial for our own security. They may have been put under pressure, but they have not swayed,” Niinistö said.

Niinistö was talking about one of his favorite metaphors for security: the four pillars that include the western partnership, evolving bilateral defense cooperation with Sweden, the relations with Russia and finally, the NATO. “Our most important pillar is the national one. Its development is mostly and most directly in our own hands. Its solid core is our credible national defense. But our security is not based only on arms. We also need profound national unity, will and preparedness,” said Niinistö.

Niinistö continued that he has “done his best to keep Finland at the tables where the future is decided.” “And by future, I also mean the huge challenges faced by humankind, such as poverty, climate change and gender inequality.”

Niinistö highlighted themes such as loneliness and the social exclusion of the youth. “Loneliness is a serious national disease of our often serious nation. It can haunt anyone, young or old. Also, in the fight against loneliness, we can all take action: a small gesture can make a big difference — greeting an elderly person in the supermarket or inviting a young person to join in your street games.”

“Loneliness is a serious national disease of our often serious nation. It can haunt anyone, young or old.”

As for young people, Niinistö said this: “We cannot afford to lose a single future talent. Once lost, they are difficult to retrieve.” He urged the youth to open up. “My wish is: talk to us. We are listening, and we have to take action. We can all take action.”

With all the aforementioned topics in mind, Niinistö reminded the nation that “he is not expecting the world significantly to calm down in the near future.” “But this cannot be an excuse to give up. On the contrary, Finland can and should do its best to strengthen both our own security and international stability.”

President Niinistö steps into his car to be escorted to the Presidential Palace where he would wave to the public and meet with the representatives of the government, the highest state bodies and the most senior public officials. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

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