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German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier shaking hands with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö before their bilateral talks at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki on September 17, 2018. Picture: Juhani Kandell/Office of the President of the Republic of Finland

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier arrived in Finland with his spouse, Mrs. Elke Büdenbender, on Monday for a three-day visit. President Steinmeier met his counterpart, Sauli Niinistö and continued on the same topic that was started by French President Emmanuel during his visit in Finland about two and half weeks ago: the unified defense and security of Europe. “I am very glad that it is now more often discussed how Europe could carry more responsibility of its own safety,” President Niinistö said at the press conference after their talks.

According to Niinistö, a strong Europe and European Union is needed to not only to increase security but also for making sure that matters important for Europeans are noticed around the world. “It’s important that we get our thoughts about democracy and human rights and democratic order heard. That’s what we have always strived to do but now the inner strength would surely strengthen our voice,” Niinistö said.

According to the presidents, the relations between their respective countries are better than ever. In fact, the presidents merely touched the topic. “It’s customary to begin the discussions by analyzing the relations between the countries but in this case, when there is not much to improve, we didn’t talk about it much,” President Niinistö said.

The secret to happinness

Despite talking about the security of Europe, President Steinmeier expressed his interest in finding out why Finns, according to the UN happiness report, are so happy. “Finland is holding the first place in the happiness index between the countries. Why is this so? That, of course, interests me in Germany and as the President of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he said.

President Steinmeier has still two days to attempt to find this one out but President Niinistö shared some philosophical insight on the subject. “It could be that the Finnish state of mind is a bit more careful and expressionless outside, and maybe it conceals the feeling of happiness inside,” Niinistö said.

On Tuesday, President Steinmeier will meet Prime Minister Juha Sipilä at the Prime Minister’s Official Residence, Kesäranta. He will also lay a wreath at the Hietaniemi cemetery and visit Me & MyCity in Espoo and the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress.

In the evening, President Steinmeier and his spouse, Mrs Büdenbender, will host a reception at the German Embassy in Finland.

On Wednesday, President Steinmeier and Mrs. Büdenbender will travel to Oulu, where they will visit for example the University of Oulu.

President Niinistö and President Steinmeier met previously on May 11, 2017, when President Niinistö visited Germany. A previous presidential visit from Germany to Finland took place in 2013 when President Niinistö hosted an official visit by President Joachim Gauck.

Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Finland