New Year’s Eve at the Senate Square in Helsinki on January 1, 2019. Picture: Samuli Vienola

New Year was celebrated in stormy winter weather across the country but still, 25,000 people gathered at the Senate Square for the big show and fireworks.

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As according to the tradition two of our head of states, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä and President Sauli Niinistö, delivered their New Year’s speeches. Sipilä addressed the nation in a bulletin, Niinistö on national TV.

Both talked about domestic matters and President Niinistö as the leader of the foreign politics pondered on current world problems and solutions, too.

Both leaders gave a lot of attention to immigration.

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“The system can be exploited by people trying to immigrate for other reasons. We have also seen how some people who have sought refuge in Finland, even some who have received it, have created insecurity here with inhumane acts.”



Sauli Niinistö

President

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. Archive picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

News stories from Oulu over the past few weeks have once again drawn attention to the principles of the rule of law. The suspected acts of sexual abuse of minors have provoked feelings of shock and anger among the people of Finland,” Sipilä said. “First of all, every person who comes here must comply with Finnish laws and respect the integrity of all persons. We will not compromise on this in any way. People who are guilty of crimes are held responsible for their actions according to the principles of the rule of law. Serious offenses also have a negative effect on the decision to grant permanent residence permits.”

Sipilä reminded us that “it is important to remember that in this case, too, the suspected offenses have been committed by individuals, not population groups.” “I urge everyone not to use these events to incite hatred against refugees or people with a foreign background. It is important to remember that in a state governed by the rule of law, taking the law into one’s own hands is a crime, as is spreading hate speech,” he said.

President Sauli Niinistö delivering his New Year’s speech at the Presidential Palace on January 1, 2019. Picture: Matti Porre/The president’s office

Niinistö in his analysis on immigration said that “in recent years, migration has been the phenomenon that has divided Europe most.” “Migration in the world is not about to end—on the contrary, the pressure for it is increasing. This is why we have to be able to manage it better, whether it is about work-related migration, refugees or asylum seekers,” Niinistö said.

According to Niinistö, an asylum application cannot be left unexamined without breaching international law. “International agreements were created to protect those in real need of protection. Them we must help,” Niinistö said and continued, “But as we have also experienced, the system can be exploited by people trying to immigrate for other reasons. We have also seen how some people who have sought refuge in Finland, even some who have received it, have created insecurity here with inhumane acts. This is an intolerable situation.”

According to Niinistö, “those residing here have to be given the opportunity to be a part of our society.” “In turn, there is the right to require a willingness to adjust to our society. And to bear responsibility, also by guiding their own. Behavior contradicting our laws and values increases the risk of stigmatization of entire groups of people and arouses deep mistrust, even hatred.”

Niinistö said that the EU is looking for solutions to the management of migration. “If the management is successful, many countries, Finland no doubt included, will be ready to increase the amount of quota refugees. They are in need of international protection.” “We must not forget that we also need migration. Qualified experts and those learning to become ones, to participate in the maintenance of our society.”

According to Niinistö, “we must remember for whom and why we are writing our great story.”

“We do it for our children. In addition to raising them with our words and example, with our actions, we also shape the world that we leave behind for them. It is precisely this view that opens for the next generation that makes a person stay or leave, try or give up, or—as we have witnessed—rebel,” Niinistö said.