Biographical sketch, Minister of Defence
Vanhanen's Cabinet 2003 - 2007
I was the first born son of Maila and Väinö Kääriäinen, born in March 1948 in my parents' home in Iisalmi. The house in which I was born, Kääriälä, passed to me in 1989. I am from Iisalmi in Savo. These are my roots and I am proud of them.
By far the most important lesson that I learned on the journey of life and politics came from Ulmala Elementary School. I have lived my life according to the knowledge and skills I learned there along with the values I took from home.
Iisalmi Lyceum was my first venture into the world - 10 kilometres by bike, come rain or come shine. Above the main door at Iisalmi Lyceum the following words are inscribed: Labor Improbus Omnia Vincit - hard work conquers all. There is something in this for everyone.
I matriculated in 1967 and completed an M.Sc. in political science in 1970. I defended my political science doctoral thesis in November 2002.
My first job was as a farm-hand working on a farm in my home village. I especially enjoyed haymaking. It was hard but rewarding work. You could see what you had achieved. I also achieved my best 'sporting result' doing those jobs: 100 stakes a day.
I met Pirjo in 1970 and we got married in 1975. Our son, Otso, was born in 1986.
You can see yourself in your own child - or at least it is possible to imagine that you can. You can see your parents in yourself. As Otso grows and gradually turns into a young man, I also grow as a person through continuous tests and effort. You learn to understand life.
In life the most important thing is life itself. You have to live it every day - and feel it. That is what Otso has taught us.
I was party secretary of the Centre Party from 1980-1990, Deputy Chairman of the Centre Party from 1994-2000 and Chairman of the parliamentary group from 1991-1993. I have been an MP for the Pohjois-Savo district since 1987. I have previously gained experience as a minister during the administration of Esko Aho when I was Minister of Trade and Industry from 1993-1995. Before my appointment as Minister of Defence I was the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament.
I have had the opportunity to be involved in all kinds of work. I have got to know every part of the country through my various positions, be that as an MP, a minister or other position of trust. For that I am grateful.
In my spare time, I take part in activities that make you hot and sweaty: forestry work, chopping firewood, long walks and of course spectator sports. I also try to read as much different literature as possible and have myself written three books: Finland's Own Path (1986), The Challenger (1989) and You Reap What You Sow (2002).