President preaches peace – and happiness – on Ukraine mission

Niinistö is on a two-day official visit to Ukraine, and on Friday gave a keynote speech at the Yalta Conference.

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Finnish President Sauli Niinistö (L) shakes hands with Ukraine Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk (R) on Friday 13th September 2019 in Ukraine / Credit: TPKanslia Twitter

President Sauli Niistö has said that “nothing is more valuable than peace” and that Finland supports Ukraine in “solidarity”, even as it’s locked in a slow-burning ongoing conflict with Russia.

Niinistö made the comments during a two-day official visit to Ukraine where he met that country’s recently-elected President Zelensky on Thursday, Prime Minister Honcharuk on Friday; and gave a keynote speech at the Yalta European Strategy Conference.

Speaking on the theme of happiness at the event, which brought together politicians and diplomats, Niinistö told the audience that while he didn’t want to give unsolicited advice to other countries, there were plenty of reasons Finland is the happiest country in the world.

“I believe that our number one position in that report has a lot to do with our success in several other rankings. We have consistently been in the top three in global indexes measuring, for instance, the rule of law, the level of education, and the lack of corruption. In 2019, Finland was also ranked as the least fragile state in the world” Niinistö said in his address at the conference.

The President said that when Finland became independent more than a hundred years ago, it was a poor rural nation with no indication it could develop so quickly.

He cited strong institutions like Parliament and the Constitution, but also said trust and personal responsibility were important factors in Finnish society as well.

“A society where people trust each other, a society people genuinely feel that they belong to, despite their differences, is also a society that is more resilient against external threats. This is at the heart of our concept of comprehensive security” the President said on Friday.