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Finnish Ambassador Speaks to Global Systems and Responsibilities

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Her Excellency Kirsti Kauppi, Ambassador of Finland to the United States, spoke at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at an April 27 event sponsored by the Colorado European Union Center of Excellence (CEUCE).

As Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary of becoming an independent nation, Ambassador Kauppi spoke about Finland's role and relations in the world. Ambassador Kauppi remarked on the country's humble beginning and rise to becoming a contributor to stability, peace and affluence in Europe and the world.

"We feel very strongly about our global responsibility," she said. "We know that there's no security and prosperity for a country like ours unless the world is in a good shape."

Speaking to organizations like NATO and the EU, Kauppi said international institutions are critical vehicles through which countries like Finland can contribute and participate on a global scale. These organizations also serve to reinforce the rules-based international system, which is vitally important for countries like Finland and bigger countries such as the United States to cooperate on large-scale issues. Outside of these organizations, Kauppi said, maintaining influence in the world is difficult.

"In Finland, we often talk about global governance, which sounds administrative, but what we mean by it is that in today's world we have to cooperate to build this rules-based system. We know that it doesn't run perfectly and some don't obey the rules, but the only option is to try and build and make sure that those rules are obeyed to the extent possible."

Recently, worries within Finland have grown related to present political U.S. system and most-recent presidential campaign. Kauppi said the Finnish people are currently worried whether the United States will continue to stay engaged in the international system and organizations of which it is currently a member.

"Her comment was interesting in which she kind of took a shot at our current leadership and said you need to have broad agreements, not just bilateral relationships," said Dr. Walter Shaw, Colorado Foothill World Affairs Council Program Director, who attended the presentation. "That's the importance of the EU (and) NAFTA."

Kauppi said Finns are still worried that the U.S. could somehow withdraw from this system and not show the kind of leadership that is not only necessary, but expected. "It is in the interest of the US to stay engaged and continue leadership," she said.

Kauppi spoke about the challenges within the Arctic and with their neighbors, Russia. "What we see in Russia now isn't going to change quickly or at least not for the better. The current regime is very difficult to interpret and, in a sense, it's more difficult to interpret than the Soviet regime."

The Arctic is a region which is growing in economic and strategic military importance. Kauppi stressed that the eight nations on the Arctic council, including Russia, need to cooperate on the many challenges currently coming to a head in the Arctic. Next month, Finland will take the chairmanship on the Arctic Council from the United States.