President Sauli Niinistö’s first New Year’s Day address* brought up some important issues facing Finland. Some of these were the threat of plugging our budget deficit with debt as well as how greed and selfishness undermine our unity as a society. He did not mentioned once the term immigrant never mind New Finn and our ever-growing cultural diversity.
You can listen to President Niinistö’s address (in Finnish and Swedish) here.
President Niinistö said that justice and unity are two crucial factors that are needed today.
”We don’t necessarily do what feels right, but rather what brings us the greatest benefit,” he said criticizing the growing role of greed and selfishness in our society.
Another matter that was mentioned in President Niinistö’s address was the graying of our population. He said that Finland has never in its history faced such an enormous demographic threat as today.
While Finland’s head of state raised some very important points, he did not mention once what immigration and our transformation to an ever-growing culturally diverse society imply never mind the role they will play in spurring economic, social and demographic growth in the new century.
In my opinion, omitting important terms like “multiculturalism” and “immigration” in the president’s address not only reveals a lack of leadership but that these terms are still politically too hot to debate openly by the new head of state of this country.
How can the president ask for the government and politicians to “be bold” and make hard decisions if he omits a crucial term like immigration from his New Year’s day address because it’s too controversial?
President Niinistö addressed the television audience as “citizens.” This means in effect that 3.4% of our population, or those who are not “citizens,” were excluded. Moreover, there are 244,827 people in this country who speak another mother tongue than Finnish, Swedish or Saami.
Taking into account the economic, social and demographic challenges we face today, we cannot afford not to debate the role of cultural diversity because it is important to find proactive solutions that further mutual acceptance, respect and the inclusion of other groups to our culturally diverse society.
Probably we’ll hear those golden words sometime in the near future, when they will form part of the president’s New Year’s Day address.
*You can read the official English transcription of President Niinistö’s address here.