Puheeni Ranskan suurlähetystön kansallispäivän vastaanotolla

12.07. 2019

Tytti Tuppurainen, Minister for European Affairs, MP12.7.2019

 

Monsieur l’ambassadeur, mesdames et messieurs!

Bonne fête nationale, c’est un grand honneur pour moi!

 

Honouring the forthcoming national day of France is indeed a great pleasure and a great honour for me. The history of France is a great part of history of Europe and history of the world. In that sense the French history and French heritage belongs to Finland as well. For example, the University of Paris was the first institute of higher education for Finns. One of our ancestors, Olavi Maununpoika, was even briefly a rector of the Paris University. In that spirit I am excited about the initiative of President Macron’s and Prime Minister Rinne to create an European Super University!

More recent French history puts France in the forefront for creation of united Europe and therefore a force for good for us Finns.  French centre-left politician and erstwhile Prime Minister Aristide Briand proposed the idea of European Union 90 years ago in order to avoid another catastrophe like the First World War. Unfortunately, it took more than two decades and another world war before the idea started to become reality.

The programme of Prime Minister Antti Rinne puts Finland in the heart of European Union. Among other things that means avoiding divisions of union in sub-groups of countries. We wish to foster the unity of EU. And we wish to have direct co-operation with all member states, including and especially with France.

 

Dear friends,

Much has been said about the growing influence of France within European Union. While we avoid seeing the European cooperation as power play and still less a zero-sum game, we do recognise the growing international role of France and French President Macron. His ideas for renewal of EU merit attention.

The growing French influence is outward-oriented and global-minded. Paris Climate Agreement is the cornerstone of global response against harmful climate change. Earlier this week President Macron launched his initiative to start the negotiations to encourage Iran to adhere the agreement necessary to avoid nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Finland has been holding the EU presidency for two weeks. So far so good and now only 24 more weeks to go! Seriously, I think we have what it takes to have successful presidency, namely

– ambition

–  pragmatism

–  and competence.

 

Ambition means that we aim to advance European climate policy, find a feasible solution to Multiannual Financial Framework in the EU by the end of the year and safeguard the rule of law.  Without diminishing the importance of other objectives, I wish to emphasise the rule of law. The rule of law is an overarching principle. It is guarding the rights of EU-nationals; it is guarding the rights of refugees and other foreign nationals within EU. And it is the basis of successful knowledge economy, respecting the privacy of people and property rights of wealth creating enterprises.

Pragmatism reminds us that many objectives take time, sometimes more than the six months we have. Especially regarding the strengthening the rule of law it is better to reach for good solutions rather than quick solutions.

Dear friends, because of Finnish national character, I will say nothing about Finnish competence, apart from the obvious.

Thank you, mister ambassador, for the opportunity to speak. Happy national day, Bonne fête nationale! Merci pour votre attention!

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