In his annual New Year's Eve greeting, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä expressed his belief that Finland's economy is on its way to recovery. In his short address, the premiere said that the tide is changing in Finland, and financial projections show promise.
"This year has already been one of unexpected growth. The recipe laid out in the government programme is working. It need not be altered, although we will use our upcoming budget talks to explore more measures for improving growth and employment," Sipilä says.
Despite this confident message, the Prime Minister underlined that the risk of increased societal inequality is very real.
"We must come together to ensure that all Finnish people feel confident that they are able to take part in building this country," he said. "Bridging gaps in health and welfare is one of the biggest mandates in our government programme."
Sipilä announced in his address that he is setting up a working group to generate new long-term solutions to curb rising inequality in Finland. Sociology professor Juha Saari is to head the new group.
"Saari has also brought public attention to this serious issue," Sipilä said.
Anti-NATO stance and international relations
Early in his speech Sipilä noted that rifts are increasing in the international community, citing the recent terrorist attacks in Ankara and Berlin. The tense global atmosphere, the war in Syria and the threat of terrorism in Europe are all signs of this, he said.
"Now more than ever we need to abide by our country's long-standing foreign and security policy, as supported by the majority of the people," Sipilä says. "That means a policy of military non-alliance, convincing sovereign defense capabilities, global cooperation with the UN and EU in particular, strong bilateral relations with all countries and seamless cooperation between authorities."
Competitiveness pact shows Finnish prowess
Sipilä finished his address with some comments on Finland's centennial celebrations.
"Throughout our history, we Finns have managed to persevere through times of transition by making changes, reaching agreements and working together with others."
He says the latest example of this is his government's hard-won competitiveness deal to reduce unit labour costs.
"Everyone can take a minute to ponder where we might be if it we hadn't been able to get this agreement over the finish line."
The Prime Minister also pointed out that Finland still does well in international comparisons.
But despite his optimistic message, he issued a warning before he finished.
"There is no cause for complacency. We need improvement and development on all fronts, the government too. I wish all the people of Finland a successful jubilee year 2017. Let's usher in the New Year together!"