I am delighted to be visiting Finland as you celebrate 100 years of IndependenceThe Duke of Cambridge
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.
I am delighted to be visiting Finland as you celebrate 100 years of Independence – a country that has become a byword for courage, determination and resilience; a country that through its commitment to civil liberties, education and quality of life has become a model to be studied, envied and emulated worldwide.
I am keen while I am here to learn more about what makes Finland such an admired nation. I am especially looking forward to learning from Finland’s experience of promoting wellbeing in society.
Your education system is admired all over the world for the way that it gives every child a right to support, and for the way it turns out some of the best educated young men and women.
I much look forward to learning tomorrow about the school anti-bullying KiVa programme, which instils wellbeing into the fabric of children's relations with one another at a very young age.
This is vitally important at a time when the 24/7 presence of social media in their lives means that children must learn at an early age what it means to respect one another.
Your commitment to wellbeing extends across to all aspects of Finnish society.
This afternoon I spent some time with Icehearts, an organisation working with children to prevent social exclusion through sport. The way in which young boys, often without adult role models in their lives, were supported by their male coaches was impressive and moving, and one that I will remember for a long time. And I’ve been given a roadmap on how to produce it in the UK.
My visit will reflect, and I hope reinforce, the strong and wide-ranging ties between the United Kingdom and Finland.
At this reception we have been celebrating our scientific, educational and cultural links, which are rich and deep.
But our ties go beyond these. The United Kingdom and Finland proudly share the same values as open and democratic societies. We share the same determination to champion those values and promote inclusion and prosperity.
Britain and Finland work together closely in the United Nations, and other multilateral forums to raise standards of development assistance and ensure international rules are enforced.
- support gender equality and the rights of women and children.
- promote free trade as a development tool for less developed countries, and
- collaborate on the Arms Trade Treaty to reduce the unregulated spread of deadly small arms.
I am particularly pleased that Finland has taken the initiative to set up a Centre of Excellence to counter Hybrid Threats; and that the United Kingdom is supporting that initiative as a founding member.
We have much to learn to make ourselves more resilient in the face of the changing nature of the threats ranged against us – and you in Finland have much to teach the rest of the world.
This year Finland and the UK have also furthered our cooperation on security and defence with the participation of Finland in the British-led Joint Expeditionary Force. I look forward to meeting members of the Finnish Armed Forces tomorrow.
In the future we will continue to buy and sell each other's goods and services, study and do research together and enjoy each other’s culture.
We should not forget the growing tourism exchanges in both directions: last year over 60,000 people flew directly from different parts of the United Kingdom to Rovaniemi to see the real Father Christmas. It is this aspect of the visit that I know is exciting my two children the most.
This relationship between the United Kingdom and Finland matters enormously to us. I am confident that we will continue to stay the closest of friends, and to build a deep and special partnership for the future.
I am very grateful to be here tonight to celebrate 100 years of remarkable Finnish independence.