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President Niinistö rejects talk of "enough savings for now"

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö says the country's leadership has not saved – in the way he understands the word – for the last ten years.

Suomen presidentti Sauli Niinistö.
President Sauli Niinistö appeared on Yle's Ykkösaamu on 11 May. Image: FLORIAN WIESER / EPA

Appearing on Yle's Ykkösaamu TV programme on Saturday morning, Finland's President, Sauli Niinistö, said he was closely monitoring ongoing government formation talks via the country's various media channels, and specifically looked forward to hearing some outlines of the economic policies proposed from the prospective coalition partners.

"Sometimes you hear talk of 'that's enough saving for now', but I understand savings to mean actually saving something, and this hasn't happened [in Finland] for ten years. Quite the contrary," the president said.

He admitted that Finland's policies are exceedingly dependent on what is happening in the rest of the world, but said the economic forecasts are not the best.

Leadership required on the environment

Environmental goals are another discussion item in the coalition talks, and Niinistö says it is not his place to interfere. He said he did however wish to comment on claims he has heard about Finland being "too small a player" to make a difference with its environmental policies.

"Now that Finland has taken over the EU Presidency, we must be able to say to the other EU countries that 'we have to' and not 'you have to'," Niinistö said.

And before Finland can says these things with any credibility before the EU, and the EU for that matter to the rest of the world, there must be clear accomplishments to back it up, the president continued. Finland has to send a clear signal, he said.

True commitment to the agenda

Finland's President also continued his campaign to promote government stability after years of cabinet breakdowns. He said that once a potential coalition agrees on a shared agenda for the next four years, they need to stick with it – no matter how bitter it might taste from time to time.

"Committing to the Government Programme is even more important than arriving at an agreement on its points," Niinistö said.

He says that he remembers from his own time in government that everyone in the coalition was on the same mission.

"We were all heading in the same direction. We understood the basic problems and we were fixing them. It would be a good sign if the new government sets out with this kind of mindset," he said.

The glue that will hold things together will be found – if it can be found – during the tough moments in the negotiation sessions, when people lock horns, perhaps heatedly, and after long debates decide to reach a solution together, the president said.

An emphasis on multilateralism

Niinistö says he is looking forward to continuing the Finnish tradition of meeting with the parliamentary party leaders to discuss foreign and security policy issues that are the constitutional mandate of the president. He says it is important to hear the opinions of the opposition at these meetings as well.

The Finnish President says he doesn't expect any significant changes in Finland's foreign policy, but he would perhaps consider a change in focus towards an alliance of multiple equally-weighted countries pursuing a common goal.

"Emphasizing multilateralism is now of the utmost importance. The world has to return to a multilateral system. The only way to solve climate change and development questions is to discuss these things together."

Countries should not only respect one another, but also multinational organisations like the United Nations. Otherwise, it will be difficult to make any progress, Niinistö said.

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