|The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Danilo Türk, and his wife, Barbara Mikliè Türk, arrived on a state visit to the Republic of Finland, accompanied by the Minister of Development and European Affairs, Mitja Gaspari, and a delegation of businessmen, including 25 representatives of Slovenian companies.|
On the first day of his visit, Dr Türk met Slovenian citizens living and working in Finland. In his address, the Slovenian President said that the Finnish model is often mentioned in economic discussions in Slovenia as a positive example from which much can be learned. There are therefore good reasons to strengthen and further develop bilateral relations, in which a significant role is played by the Slovenian community living in Finland.
|On day two, President Türk and Mrs Türk met the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen, and her husband, Dr Pentti Arajärvi. An official welcome ceremony with military honours was followed by a reception, at which the two presidents exchanged respective state decorations. President Halonen presented Dr Türk with the award of Commander, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, while President Türk conferred on his Finnish counterpart the Order for Exceptional Merits, for her contribution in consolidating international co-operation and friendly bilateral relations between the two countries.|
This was followed by a one-to-one meeting between the two dignitaries. Simultaneously with the presidential meeting, talks between the delegations of the Republic of Finland and the Republic of Slovenia, headed respectively by the Finnish Minister of Migration and European Affairs, Astrid Thors, and Minister Gaspari, were opened. The two presidents later joined the talks.
|In her statement to the press following the meeting, President Halonen assessed relations between Finland and Slovenia as excellent. In her view, today's visit of President Türk will certainly contribute to the respective reputation of each country in Finland and Slovenia. Describing both countries as active members of the European Union, Ms Halonen highlighted the importance of a mutual exchange of views on the reform process within the EU. She added that the plenary talks had also been intended to find common interests and opportunities for strengthening bilateral economic co-operation.|
President Halonen emphasised that President Türk has much experience in international affairs and that, in the past, the two had already used several opportunities to discuss issues such as the Millennium Development Goals and other global challenges faced by the United Nations. Moreover, she is very much interested in President Türk's views on the situation in Afghanistan and in the Middle East, the implementation of UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and on other global issues.
|President Türk said that it was a particular pleasure for him to have the opportunity to talk to President Halonen, who is one of the leading proponents of progressive causes calling for faster progress of the European Union as a community, in which the voices of all 27 Member States must be heard. Dr Türk emphasised that, during the talks, he and President Halonen had particularly focused on development based on research and new technologies, development which is sustainable in terms of maintaining the quality of the environment and of life, and which allows for social cohesion to be preserved or even strengthened. He added that this is currently an extremely important topic for the European Union, which following the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty has to define or redefine itself. According to President Türk, the EU must also be active on the global scene and speak with one voice as much as possible. It must define its priorities, including those related to the Millennium Development Goals, and actively address various crisis situations. |
|Their talks also addressed bilateral relations, which in Dr Türk's view are developing very strongly. However, more should be done to enhance economic co-operation, particularly in areas such as information technologies, and areas that have an environmental dimension. Dr Türk also briefed his host on Slovenia's relations with the Western Balkan countries, and the efforts of Slovenia and Croatia to enhance the ties and understanding among these countries.|
Later in his visit, President Türk visited Helsinki City Hall where he was awarded Helsinki's Medal of Honour. He continued his official visit by attending the Finnish-Slovenian business forum, where he addressed an audience of business people from the two countries. In his address, he particularly highlighted opportunities to enhance co-operation in information technologies, forestry and tourism. He also called for long-term co-operation in joint participation of the two countries on third markets.
|In the afternoon, Dr Türk met with the Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, with whom he discussed the role of parliaments and legislatures in defining measures to overcome the economic crisis.|
President Türk later gave a lecture entitled "From the Helsinki Final Act to the new OSCE Charter: the issue of new security architecture". Organised by the Paasikivi Society (named after the great Finnish statesman of the 20th century), the lecture was attended by around 150 diplomats, professors, journalists and experts on international affairs.
|President Türk and Mrs Türk then attended a gala dinner held in their honour, hosted by President Halonen and Dr Arajärvi.|