In her New Year’s message, Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) talked about the hurt in Ukraine, the Finnish relations with Russia and, among others, the energy crisis.
“This past year will leave an indelible mark on history and on the collective memory of our nation,” Prime Minister Sanna Marin (the SDP) said in her New Year’s message to the Finnish citizens. “Few Finns will ever forget that February morning when a full-scale, brutal war of aggression broke out in Europe. Thousands of people, both soldiers and civilians, have died or been wounded in Ukraine, and so many have lost loved ones,” she continued.
We publish Prime Minister Marin’s message in its entirety.
“Finland and the international community at large immediately condemned Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. Right from the beginning, the European Union was united, strong and swift in its response. We must continue to show that strength and courage. We will help the Ukrainians for as long as they need it. Russia may have started this war, but they will not win it. A world where undemocratic powers subjugate other states, in blatant disregard of the UN Charter and human suffering, is a world we must leave behind forever. Russia’s friends are now few and far between. We, for our part, must focus on helping Ukraine.
For us Finns, Ukraine’s fight is our fight. And we have shown our support and helped Ukrainians in all possible ways. We have sympathized with their plight and felt their distress. The people of Ukraine will always remember the help and support they have received from Finns, just as we ourselves remember the help we were given in times of war.
Finland has welcomed Ukrainians fleeing the war and provided Ukraine with humanitarian aid, protective equipment and defense supplies, including heavy weaponry. Now, in the midst of a harsh winter, we have offered expertise and equipment for winter warfare. We have contributed actively to the support provided through the EU and have been involved in deciding on that support together.
The European Union imposed severe sanctions on Russia right from the start of the war. Finnish businesses have also felt the cost of the war, and it has affected people’s personal finances. Not long ago, we believed we could build stability with Russia through cooperation. Russia is now using these connections — such as energy — as a weapon, seeking to erode our and other Europeans’ support for Ukraine. As a result of the energy crisis, we are now suffering from high electricity prices and exceptionally high inflation as we approach the heart of winter.
As prices rise, many ordinary Finns have faced unreasonable difficulties. There are no easy solutions to this problem, but it is clear that the state must step in to support its citizens. With this in mind, the government has made efforts to mitigate the excessive impact of energy prices on Finnish households.
At the same time, we must continue our determined efforts to break away from Russian energy. Throughout Europe, we must learn from our mistakes and break free from the dependencies that have made us vulnerable.
The war of aggression launched by Russia has had an impact on the security situation in Finland and in all of Europe. As a nation, we had to decide how Finland would respond to this new reality last spring. Our decision to seek NATO membership together with our closest neighbor Sweden was consistent with our interests and values. The decision was made with broad popular support and a strong parliamentary consensus. This consensus provides a good foundation for building our future as a NATO member. We are becoming part of the ever-closer Euro-Atlantic community, in which the security of each member also affects our security.
With our decision, we have strengthened Finland’s position and broadened our room for maneuvering in a situation where it was at risk of narrowing and even being compromised altogether. These difficult times have brought us closer to our friends, which has earned us a reputation as a respected and trusted partner in the world. This is also thanks to skillful diplomacy carried out over the years.
In our resolve, we have shown courage and the Finnish perseverance we call sisu. Together, we have defended our values and taken the necessary actions on our own terms. I hope that as a nation, we can be proud of this.
I believe that the energy crisis, Russia’s war of aggression and the COVID-19 pandemic have shown us how important it is to examine our critical dependencies on other countries at a European level. We must strengthen our strategic autonomy — that is, Europe’s self-sufficiency — our resilience and our global partnerships, especially with other democracies. Because we can only strengthen Europe with the support of our friends. Equally, our friends, both close by and far away, need us.
Strategic autonomy also means defending our values. It is in Finland’s interests to help build a stronger Europe, especially now, when the world is crying out for defenders of human rights, equality and cooperation. What we need most right now is multilateral cooperation, because we have to be able to solve the global crises and challenges facing us, such as climate change.
We have shown that building a fair and equal society enables us to overcome obstacles. Since the end of World War II, we have built a Nordic welfare state, and it is our duty to continue developing it in a way that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable. Our strength comes from mutual trust and fair solutions. This is the message we will share with the world.
We are once again facing an exceptionally demanding winter and there are many uncertainties on our horizon. But I am confident that by investing boldly in our strengths, we can build a better future – together, by supporting one another and taking care of everyone. We Finns are a strong people. We are resilient and we are able to make decisions together, even in difficult times. As a society, we have faith in the future, we trust one another and we are flexible. We must not take these strengths for granted; we must work to safeguard them.
In the parliamentary elections this spring, the citizens of Finland will elect the decision-makers who will set our country’s course for the coming years. The exceptional years of this electoral term have shown the strength of a democratic Nordic welfare state in the midst of crises. In this situation, the parliamentary elections seem even more meaningful than before. Safeguarding democracy is our duty and privilege.
I encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote, as free elections are the cornerstone and foundation of a democratic society. Finland is worth fighting for, but it is also worth voting for.
I wish you all a Happy New Year!”