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Parliament Starts 2005 Session

President Tarja Halonen has opened the 2005 session of Parliament. In her address to MPs, she responded to foreign policy critics and stressed the importance of unity on foreign policy issues.

The President warned of discussions on foreign policy that aimed to deliberately sow division over policies where consensus already existed.

Halonen added that striving for short-term political advantage was rarely good for the nation.

The President emphasised that politics, as well as foreign policy, was the consolidation of differing opinions and views.

Halonen praised the co-operation between herself and the government during the terms in office of the previous and current prime ministers.

She said she considered Finland's influence, to date, within the EU, to be clearly positive. She also emphasised the role of the U.N.

Halonen referred to recent concerns expressed by Nokia Chief Executive Jorma Ollila on the selling of Finnish companies to foreign owners. She said comments from the business community were most welcome.

The President added that Finland, too, needs new investments, both domestic and international. She said she hoped that foreign investments in Finland would bring new jobs, innovation and fresh means of co-operation.

In his address, Parliamentary Speaker Paavo Lipponen noted that globalisation last year was visible in a greater internationalisation of parliament's work.

The reviews of defence and security policy as well as that on human rights, together with the Prime Minister's announcement on the EU constitution were major examples of the weaving together of national and international politics.

The legislature holds its first regular working session on Thursday afternoon.

Finnish News Agency, YLE24

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