Different world views are on a collision course and the world is more complex than ever before, said Finnish President Sauli Niinistö in his last speech to the UN General Assembly in New York on Wednesday.
At the beginning of his speech, Niinistö recalled his first address to the UN General Assembly as Finnish president more than a decade ago. He said that the world seemed quite complex at the time, but now the world has become even more complex.
"Yet, in this hall, our common task was to create a constructive atmosphere. To understand each other and to find solutions to the challenges we are facing," Niinistö said, before asking, "Today, as I address this body for the last time, I have to ask: have we succeeded in our task?"
Global tensions are high and the great power competition is intensifying.
"Different worldviews now seem to be on a collision course," Niinistö said.
The theme of the General Assembly, rebuilding trust and reviving global solidarity, must not remain empty rhetoric, he said.
"We need to put these words in practice," Niinistö insisted.
"Critical voices must be heard"
Niinistö stressed that many of the challenges facing the world are ones that must be solved together. He mentioned, for example, the fight against climate change.
"As we strive to strengthen multilateral cooperation, all voices must be heard. Particularly the critical ones. Instead of rushing to judge, we need to learn to listen," Niinistö urged.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine violates the UN Charter and, according to Niinistö, it hits close to home for Finland, echoing the Nordic country's history.
"We, too, have fought for our freedom and independence against an enemy far greater in size and paid a high price for it. We do not want to see the world regress to a state where the big consider it their privilege to subjugate the small," said Niinistö
Niinistö warned the world that the war in Ukraine must not be allowed to become one of the many protracted conflicts that already exist around the world. Ending the war in Ukraine can help reduce tensions more widely.
"Peace that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is in all of our interests," Niinistö emphasised.