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Kultaranta talks: UN Secretary-General, President on the future of politics

Secretary-General António Guterres and a panel of high-powered politicians discuss the fate of the international system live on Sunday.

Guterres and Niinistö in New York in September, 2017. Image: YK / Lehtikuva

Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres arrives in Finland on Sunday to attend the 6th annual Kultaranta talks, a two-day round of foreign policy debates arranged at President Sauli Niinistö's summer residence in Naantali.

The annual summer summit, established in 2013, gathers analysts, experts, diplomats and academics to discuss current security and foreign policy issues.

The opening press conference for the talks can be viewed live on Yle Areena starting at 4 pm (GMT+3).

Guterres and Niinistö are joined by political heavyweights and expert analysts in the first panel discussion starting at 6 pm (GMT+3). You can also watch this discussion live on the Yle Areena service. The talks are held in English.

The future of the world

Speaking on the changes being brought about by times of global uncertainty are Miroslav Lajčák, President of the UN General Assembly; Swedish ex-PM and ex-Foreign Minister Carl Bildt; OECD Deputy Secretary-General Mari Kiviniemi; and Tuija Talvitie, director of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI), who acts as the panel's moderator.

President Martti Ahtisaari will deliver the final comments of the day on Sunday, 17 June.

The main theme of the in-depth discussions this year is the nature and future of the international community.

Critical voices

With politics shaken by a recent series of far-reaching policy moves by the US and by international crises, researchers are also saying that Finland's role on the world stage has diminished from its heyday.

"We haven't been spending our chips enough compared to our Nordic neighbours," says professor of international politics Pami Aalto from the University of Tampere. "Finland just doesn't have as much intellectual capital in play at large. As a small country we should be directing our resources globally."

Aalto refers to Finland's cuts to international aid that have brought its share of the GDP down to 0.41 percent, while Sweden, Norway and Denmark all manage 0.7 percent investments.

Researcher Matti Pesu from the Finnish Institute of International Affairs adds that Finland does not currently possess a strong global profile, with domestic schisms taking precedent over cross-cultural exchange.

"After the Ukrainian crisis began, Finland's foreign politics has become regionalised," Pesu says. "The global agenda has taken a back seat. European problems and defence issues have taken over much of the conversation."

The leaders and experts at Kultaranta will also discuss how the European Union – as a commercial power and joint effort for peace – could best make its voice heard among the world's three superpowers, China, Russia and the US.