Welcoming words by Minister Soini at the WPFD reception

Welcoming words by Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland Timo Soini at the Word Press Freedom Day reception on 3 May 2016 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I know you have had a long day at the conference, so I will be brief.

First of all, I just want to say this: it is a real honor for me to welcome you and to join you in this reception. Freedom of the Press is a cause worth fighting for, worth defending and toasting for.

Now, some of you may think: "This is what ministers always say. But do they really mean it?"

I know: a politician saying nice things about journalism sounds a bit like a fox flattering a pack of hunting dogs.

"There must be a catch", you probably think.

I admit: I have been in politics for many years. My relationship with the media is a bit… …complicated.

Sometimes the media has given me great publicity. It has made it possible for my party to create a real political alternative for established parties.

Some other times, they have written such things about me that my milk turned sour in my morning coffee.

Somebody once said: great newspapers never defend anybody. And even if they do, they do it to accuse somebody else.

I don't know if that’s true. But I find that definition tempting.

With free press, it is not always easy to be a politician. But let me be clear: this is how it should be. This is what makes societies open.

Having a hard time with the media makes me proud.

Today, the importance of good, serious journalism is all the more important.

The internet is a great instrument, but it is also a bazaar of disinformation, hate speech and propaganda.

Therefore, critical journalism is just as important as it is difficult.

It is an honor to join so many brave journalists who take no favors, and give no favors, and take great risks in telling the truth.

I wish you all courage in your critical, difficult, and valuable work.

Have a very good evening in Helsinki.