Opening Address by Mr. Timo Soini, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, at the Commemoration event of the 1975 Helsinki Summit

Finlandia Hall, Helsinki 
10 July 2015

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Distinguished guests,

Welcome to Helsinki. It is my privilege to address you here in Finlandia Hall at the Commemoration event of the 1975 Helsinki Summit.

Throughout the last 40 years, the OSCE has helped us bring about security, stability, human rights and democracy. It has facilitated human contacts from Vancouver to Vladivostok. All OSCE participating States have declared their adherence to common values and norms.

Finnish Prime Minister Keijo Liinamaa said 40 years ago in the Helsinki Conference:

 "The work, however, has not been completed. Only the firm implementation of the decisions we have approved will really introduce a new era, at which we aim, into the relations between our countries and the life of their citizens."

These words are again true and valid given the changes in the European security environment.

And thus I stress those words. The concept of comprehensive security and building security through co-operation has prevailed over the past 40 years, and efforts in this regard need our support today - more than ever.

The European security has worsened. We are all aware that the crisis in and around Ukraine is now shaking the European security and we face serious questions. How to strengthen our collective engagement and explore opportunities for finding common ground?  How can we reconfirm the existing elements of cooperative security on the basis of the OSCE commitments and principles? How can we continue efforts to develop the tools and instruments that we have jointly established in the OSCE framework?  

The imminent task for all countries and all involved in the crisis in and around Ukraine is to truly follow their commitment to de-escalate and implement the Minsk agreements fully, unconditionally and promptly. Aiming for spheres of influence belong to the past.

These issues will be discussed at the informal High Level Meeting later today. Dialogue is important and the only way forward and the OSCE offers a unique platform for this.

Distinguished guests,

In 1969 Finland agreed to the idea of holding a conference on security and co-operation. Our motives were and are clear - to enhance European security and thus also our own security.

Strengthening co-operative security arrangements was and is not directed against anyone or anyone's interests. On the contrary, it was intended to bring down fences and decrease misunderstandings.

Today the urgency for building security through co-operation is imminent and maybe even stronger than it was 40 years ago.

This is for two simple reasons.

First, we have all committed to international agreements and common norms and principles such as the Helsinki Final Act, Charter of Paris and the UN Charter.

Second, we have international organizations, such as the OSCE, with tools to react to evolving situations. This has again been proven by the OSCE's role in the crisis in and around Ukraine.

Yet, while the foundation for cooperation is strong, the OSCE co-operation currently faces serious challenges that we need to address.

Dear friends,

Some of us here today can recall, perhaps even through personal experience, the Helsinki events in 1975. No miracle took place then but it was in this Helsinki spirit that a forward-looking attitude was adopted.

This attitude is very much needed in the current situation. Finland remains fully committed to that spirit and work within the OSCE.

I thank you, and trust that the Spirit of Helsinki will guide your deliberations.

ulko- ja turvallisuuspolitiikka