ATHENS – The Independence Day of the Republic of Finland was celebrated on Wednesday evening in Athens at the Finnish ambassador Jari Gustafsson’s residence.
The ambassador said that he believed that the closer bilateral dialogue between the two countries that started this year with the Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin’s visit to Greece and the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias’ visit to Helsinki will continue in the future as it is in the interest of both countries.
The full statement follows:
“Today we celebrate the Independence Day of the Republic of Finland. Finland became an independent country following the dramatic events of the First World War. For over a hundred years, Finns have never taken their independence for granted.
There have been times we have been forced to take up arms, and during the Cold War, we were torn between East and West. EU membership in 1995 bound us undeniably to the West.
Finland has always maintained its military preparedness and taken care of its own security.
Previously, Finland always had strong confidence in its ability to deal with its big neighbour, Russia. We trusted that good political and economic relations and people-to-people contacts would build trust and dispel all potential security threats. This year has taught us that we have had far too much confidence in ourselves and our relationship with Russia.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as President Niinistö put it, dropped the masks from the faces of Russian leaders and revealed the cold reality of war. The overriding emotion in Finland was anger. Why did we trust, why did we believe, and why did we not see Russia’s violent intentions?
Finland’s membership in NATO is a big step for Finland, but so is strengthening collective security in the Baltic Sea and northern Europe.
Europe is united right now. Standing by Ukraine must mean that peace must be on Ukraine’s terms.
No European country has threatened to attack Russia. The new post-war security arrangement must guarantee that Russia cannot in future threaten another country and its citizens, cannot exert pressure, or create chaos or violence.
We thank Greece and our other Western partners for the strong and undivided support we have received during the NATO accession processes.
I also believe that the closer bilateral dialogue between the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister that started this year – with our prime minister Sanna Marin in Athens and The Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias in Helsinki – will continue in the future. It is in the interest of both countries.
Amid all crises, Independence Day is a day to be proud of. In my opinion, Finland is the most stable country in the world. It is the freest country in the world, the safest country, and we have the best administration, the most independent judiciary and a free press. I am proud that in Finland, the voice of minorities is being heard more and more comprehensively. Corruption is low, and we are healthy and sometimes happy. I am proud that there are so many things I can be proud of in my own country.
Lastly, I want to welcome you all once again to celebrate the 105 anniversary of Finland, and I hope you will all raise your glasses to our continuous friendship.”