How we react under pressure for easy answers, will judge what we are worth at the end of the day.

Dear Friends,

It has been fantastic for Keskusta and Sfp to host you during these days; we have got a lot of inspiration for the electoral campaign that is to start; or de facto, has started already, in view of the parliamentary elections on April 17th.

Fortunately the elections have been postponed from the traditional month of March. You do understand that my feet and nose love the change – as we increasingly are campaigning in the streets and at marketplaces outdoors! In April the weather is a bit more welcoming.

Furthermore it is with pleasure I note that the first ever ELDR Congress in Finland also has been the largest in ELDR’s history.

And it was about time that the liberal parties of Europe came to Finland – a country I consider to be the cradle of liberalism. Yes, you heard me right- the cradle of liberalism.

Because it was here that Anders Chydenius lived; in Ostrobothnia – he, who some years before Adam Smith, wrote on economic liberalism; but also on freedom of speech and the principle of transparency.

In an era when more regulation is proposed everywhere, and more limits to freedom; for example the freedom of movement, is being put forward, there is one lesson of Chydenius that I want to highlight especially.

Chydenius saw how the most remote ironworks suffered the most from the mercantile regulation and the monopoly of foreign trade and he therefore came up with new ideas. The weakest suffered the most from the regulation.

When we consider new regulation, we must keep this in mind.

Let us think about migration for example: if we only make barriers higher around Europe, and do not try to give legal opportunities for migration; the ones who are the winners are the traders in human beings, the traffickers.

The political scenery is not going to be easy in the coming years. Many of our fundamental values are under attack; both concerning our vision of Europe, our vision of the free market and on human rights. And we have a rising far right and many populist parties gaining ground. How united will we stand?

It is our task as liberals to monitor and make sure that universal human rights are respected for all EU citizens.
As the rights of some of us; the Roma population, are being violated and trampled upon on a daily basis and as they are made scapegoats for everything evil, when populists get their voice heard, as foreign workers, asylum seekers and family members from other continents are treated without dignity; not as individuals with universal human rights, it is our obligation to speak out.

How we react under pressure for easy answers, will judge what we are worth at the end of the day.

In my mind the best reaction to the rising extremist parties is to try listen to the concerns of those who feel their place in their society is threatened, as unemployment is rising and old skills do not guarantee a job. Within the EU, “the EU 2020” must be made into reality – and I do hope, as Mrs Prime Minister Kiviniemi yesterday, that the Digital Agenda and the Single E-market is becoming a reality. All of these initiatives will help get employment a boost in Europe.

I hope these days have given you inspiration to think in new ways of how we can combat growing narrow-minded nationalism in EU and that they have given occasions to build ever stronger ties between our parties. And I wish you have got a better understanding of our country.

On behalf of the hosts; let me congratulate the newly elected to the Bureau. And Annemie; thank you for the hard work you are doing in leading ELDR. Your experience, skills and visions inspire all of us.

Thank you !