The inauguration of the President of the Republic of Finland took place in Helsinki on Thursday 1 February 2018. At 12 noon, President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö took the oath of office, the solemn affirmation referred to in section 56 of the Constitution. Following this, Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela conveyed Parliament’s greetings to the President.
In his inauguration speech, President Niinistö said that it is a great honour to be elected President and that the office entails great responsibility. "I take this responsibility humbly, but with determination. I will devote myself to this task, and this is the biggest promise one can make."
The President reminded those present that politics is about taking care of our common affairs. "The people have given us their trust and a valuable mandate. But this mandate is not for us to keep: it requires us to take better care of our common affairs than we would of our own."
The main duty of the President of the Republic is to lead Finland’s foreign policy in cooperation with the Government. In his inauguration speech, President Niinistö identified future challenges and solutions in this conflict-ridden world. The President said that he sees two possible ways to improve the situation. The first he calls the way of international order: "[T]he positions of both the UN and the EU must be strengthened. -- The UN will have to regain its position as the forum of peoples and the forum for peace."
President Niinistö said that Secretary-General Guterres will need all our support in his reform process and also that the EU requires an overhaul. "The EU is an organisation with plenty of desire for peace, but it continues to punch below its weight. We need a Union which is also a security community with a unified voice that is heard. Finland has an active role in this, we are not a mere observer."
President Niinistö calls the second the way of direct contacts. "[D]ialogue between the west and the east is essential. And west means not only the United States and NATO, but also the EU, and east means not only Russia, but also China. Maintaining a dialogue is the first step towards building peace."
The President reminded those present that humankind faces huge challenges , such as poverty, climate change and gender inequality. Finland aims to be at the tables where the future is decided. President Niinistö emphasised that mitigating climate change will be the most important issue in the years ahead: "It is a fact that humanity cannot afford to lose our planet. "
In his speech, President Niinistö also paid attention to the young and loneliness - we can all take action. "Many good things are happening in Finland right now, but not to everyone. We should particularly take notice of the young. We cannot afford to lose a single future talent", the President said. "We also have to work actively against loneliness. Loneliness is a serious national disease of our often serious nation. -- We can all take action: a small gesture can make a big difference. No gesture is too small. Let us take action and encourage each other. Let us be compassionate, that is what loving your neighbour means."
At the end of his speech, President Niinistö talked about the President's capacity in relation to the citizens. "The President of the Republic of Finland can be nothing less than the President of the whole country and the whole nation. This is how I understand the office. And this is how I will continue in my job."
He also answered a question by Speaker of Parliament Maria Lohela: "I answer with two different kind of senses, the sense of justice and the sense of responsibility and the trust that is built on them."
From Parliament, President Niinistö and Mrs Haukio proceeded to the Presidential Palace, where they greeted the public from the balcony. In the Hall of Mirrors, the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, the Ambassador of Nicaragua, Ricardo Alvarado, greeted the President, who then responded. Before transferring to the Hall of State, the President shook hands with the members of the diplomatic corps.
In the Hall of State, Prime Minister Juha Sipilä addressed the President, and President Niinistö, in turn, gave a speech. Finally, still in the Hall of State, the President shook hands with members of the Government, representatives of the highest bodies of state and the most senior public officials.