Finnish President Sauli Niinistö has proposed a Helsinki summit in the spirit of the 1975 Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) which led to the founding of the OSCE. He made the suggestion in an op-ed column published in the leading daily Helsingin Sanomat on Sunday, entitled "Arctic Cool and the Spirit of Helsinki".
Niinistö suggested that such a meeting could be a way to defuse what he sees as growing tensions among major powers such as the United States, China and Russia.
In the essay, he asks rhetorically how a constructive dialogue could be established in the meantime, replying that "the most workable model…is the process launched by the Paris Climate Agreement. We have an important issue in common. The necessary results must be achieved at the Glasgow climate summit [in early November]. The Climate Coalition of Finance Ministers, which Finland co-founded and continues to lead, has its own promising track," the president writes.
Arctic issues "cool enough"
In the article, Niinistö reiterates his proposal for an Arctic summit. According to the president, such a meeting would be useful not only in climate matters but also in relieving military tensions in the region. Niinistö writes that he has stated before that Arctic issues are "cool enough for discussion even in hotter atmospheres".
In 2018, Niinistö discussed Arctic issues such as black carbon in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Donald Trump, who had already decided to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris Agreement, which it rejoined last month. He again raised Arctic matters during a 2019 meeting with Trump.
At that point, too, Niinistö called for “a first-ever Arctic Summit, bringing together the heads of state and government from the eight members of the Council: the United States, Russia, Canada and the five Nordic states”.
50th anniversary of Helsinki Accords?
Niinistö suggested that an expanded summit could be held, for example, in 2025, 50 years after the original Helsinki Accords.
He proposed that a new summit could be held in 2025, half a century after the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) in Helsinki.
The 1975 meeting brought together the heads of state of 35 countries in Europe and North America. It was credited with lowering Cold War tensions and led to the establishment of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in 1995.
“In four years' time, the celebration would be a good time to bring the spirit of Helsinki back to the world. Once again, a positive spiral is needed, a precious foundation of the OSCE, respecting the values of freedom, democracy and rights,” the president wrote.
Niinistö, 72, added that he intends to watch a possible new summit from his sofa at home. His second and final term as president ends in early 2024.