Outgoing Government’s visit to the President of the Republic
6.6.2019 (Check against delivery)
The Government you appointed in May 2015 in now convening officially for the last time. I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincerest thanks to you, Mr President, for your collaboration over the years. I remember how at the State Opening of Parliament in April 2015, you said that “if you ever need a good man, get in touch.” Over the course of these years in Government, I have been grateful for the direct and open discussion we have had together. I am very pleased that you kept the promise you made four years ago.
In the context of global politics, this Government has worked under challenging conditions. We have had to contend with the uncontrolled flow of migration in 2015, the war in Syria, the financial crisis in Greece, Brexit, foreign and security policy tensions, the continuing threat of a trade war and the withdrawal of some countries from the climate measures. At the same time, Finland has chaired both the Arctic Council and the Council of Europe and handled preparations for Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the EU. This means that the Government and the President have had to work together seamlessly. Amidst all these crises, Finland has been able to play a greater role than its size would suggest and you, Mr President, have had a big part in this. The world’s attention turned to Finland when you hosted the meeting of President Putin and President Trump in summer 2018.
More recently, with the general tone in political debate having become harder, it is extremely important to foster a humane atmosphere and a climate of mutual respect. Every one of us is called to fight against the spread of discrimination, fear and hatred.
When this Government started its work, economic and employment prospects were bleak. Over the preceding four years, 100,000 more people had lost their jobs and there was a large deficit in public finances. Unlike in the Government coalition talks that have just ended, in its talks four years ago, our Government had to work out where to cut spending, how to consolidate public finances and how to tackle the sustainability gap. Throughout our term, we worked hard to achieve an employment target that even many experts thought was impossible. Without wishing to exaggerate the role of our Government in any way, it is nonetheless true to say that employment is now record high.
We often tend to forget to thank the people who work behind the scenes in policy making. I would therefore like to give my warmest thanks to all the public officials, assistants, in-house service staff, drivers, security staff and everyone else who have worked hard to support our efforts. I’m proud to say Finland has the best public service in the world.
In this context, I also wish to emphasise how proud I am of every minister of this Government. I would like to thank the entire Government as a team and every minister individually for the hard work they have put into the past four years. For many of us, our work as ministers and even as members of Parliament has now come to a close. I believe one major reason for this is that, at the time, we were obliged to act in our nation's best interest.
And on a lighter note, let it be said that despite a strong headwind and even stormy spells at times, this Government persevered, so much so that this became the longest serving Government in history. I must admit, though, that there were quite a few close calls during our term in government.
My Government wishes to thank you for the active cooperation and genuine appreciation you have shown us.