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Speech by Prime Minister Sipilä at the Opening Ceremony of Finland 100 Exhibition "Echoes – 100 years in Finnish Design and Architecture"

Government Communications Department
12.1.2017 20.34

(check against delivery) Szanowna Pani Premier, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends of Finland, This year, we are celebrating 100 years of Finland’s independence. Our celebrations started on New Year's night in Helsinki, and we will continue with countless more events throughout Finland this year.

We will mark the centenary in many ways outside the borders of our country, too. Today, it gives me particular pleasure to launch the celebrations here in Warsaw, at the first ‘Finland 100’ event that is taking place abroad. The magnificent POLIN Museum, designed by Professor Mahlamäki, offers the perfect venue for this.

I had the opportunity to visit the Museum earlier today. The way that the history of Polish Jews comes alive here is truly special and the exhibition leaves a permanent impression on the visitor. It is humbling to visit this unique place, in the middle of the former ghetto area.

I feel privileged that we in Finland can experience a special connection to the Museum, and that Finnish creativity and architecture have contributed to its success.

A museum designed by a Finnish architect in the capital of Poland is one of the latest examples of the close ties between our two countries, and it also highlights the many opportunities we have for cooperation.

Also the presence of Prime Minister Szydlo at this event tonight reflects this link between our countries.

The history of our friendship across the Baltic Sea extends well beyond the last 100 years. But, in 1917 and 1918, Finland and Poland shared the same destiny as both gained their independence. Next year, Poland will be celebrating its centenary.

One of the eight themes of the Echoes exhibition is ‘Light and Dark’. During the years of our independence, we have seen light, as well as dark, in both of our countries. The Museum of the History of Polish Jews is a reminder of this.

Now Finland and Poland work together, as members of the European Union, and it is our constant responsibility to make sure that light will always prevail over dark in Europe and in the world.

Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of the Finland 100 celebrations is ‘Together’. This reflects the Finnish experience: From the very start of our independence, we have valued the equal participation of all citizens, women and men, in building the Finnish society. The war years brought the young nation together in a unique way. The following decades saw Finland become a success story.

The Echoes exhibition is also a demonstration of this theme. Finnish design and architecture have a universal appeal, but they are also clearly Finnish. They reflect our society, the natural surroundings and the challenges that we Finns experience, but they also look towards the future.

Through this exhibition we hope to tell our story to our Polish friends as well. What makes the exhibition especially interesting is that it shows how design is a part of our everyday lives in Finland. It is a shared experience – in fact, I’m sure that every Finnish person in the audience will recognise some objects in the exhibition from their own home. I certainly did.

I would like to congratulate the organising team, and also pay tribute to the way this exhibition has been created together with several partner companies.

I would also like to express our deep gratitude to the POLIN Museum for holding this exhibition, which is so different from your usual programmes. Without your help and cooperation this Finland 100 event would not have been possible.

Madam Prime Minister, Dear Friends,

Thank you for being with us tonight. I wish you an enjoyable evening and a memorable Finland 100 experience.

Juha Sipilä
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