The past year has been a busy one in international politics. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs has worked very hard so that the views of Finland and Finns would have influence in the world. I want to thank various bodies for their good cooperation, and especially the representatives of civil society for the many constructive discussions held during the year.
Particularly new during this past year was the rise of Arctic issues to become a central political topic. Finland’s Strategy for the Arctic Region was completed and the objectives it lays down indicate that Finland’s goals for the Arctic are part of the sustainable development policy. The conditions set by the environment must always be taken into account. All activities in the Arctic are important for Finland, as nearly one in three people living to the north of the world’s 60th latitude north is Finnish.
We support the work of the Arctic Council and within its scope we want to contribute to the development of the quickly needed collective environment and transport agreements.
The second issue that rose to the fore this year concerns communications security and protection. Cyber issues are increasingly on the Foreign Minister’s agenda and cyber security has become an important aspect of security policy. It is recognized that the potential of the modern information technology and the internet are staggering. Today they play an essential role, among others, in economic development and the rise of innovation. Therefore it is important that there continues to be only one common internet. The internet must be accessible to all users, and users must be able to trust it.
Modern technology and the internet, however, have a dark side, which we have discovered in the espionage that has targeted our information networks. Aside from national measures, the development of cybersecurity requires multidimensional international cooperation. Measures to increase trust play a key role in cooperation between States.
Control of the internet is a question that has received much attention in international discussion. Finland considers that in the future, too, the internet must be governed through multi-actor cooperation with participation by States, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. The multi-actor model is also emphasized in Finland’s Cyber Security Strategy, which was adopted in January 2013.
Human rights and civil liberties are in force on the internet as well. Government measures should never undermine their implementation. Contradictory motives also exist, such as the wish to restrict the freedom of the internet. Supervision of the Internet should comply with the principles of democratic and transparent rule of law and respect for human rights, including the protection of privacy. The role of Governments is to ensure that the legislation in force is sufficient to regulate the control. Similarly, the conditions under which monitoring can take place legally should be determined.
On behalf of the entire Ministry for Foreign Affairs, I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Minister for Foreign Affairs