Helsinki Spirit — engaging with diversity on behalf of peace
Excerpts from article. Notes for MA thesis research
A Helsinki spirit? The EU should pay attention to Finland’s initiative
Nov 22, 2021
By Henri Vanhanen and Niklas Novaky
“The core of Niinistö’s proposal is to focus on the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the Helsinki Final Act and moreover on the “Helsinki Spirit”. The key idea would be to have a global conversation and involve countries such as China that are not members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the guardian of the document.
Niinistö hopes to boost dialogue, mutual understanding, and trust between different countries, not just like-minded ones, with the aim of having another Helsinki Summit in 2025.
Niinistö made his proposal initially in the Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat in March and, in July, published an article on the matter in the American Foreign Policy journal…Niinistö also raised the topic in his speech to the UN General Assembly in September…”
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(EDIT 220113 Excerpt from the Finnish President’s UN speech, on the history and essence of Helsinki Spirit:
“In 1975, thirty years after the United Nations was founded, thirty-five heads of state and government gathered in the Finnish capital to sign the Helsinki Final Act. The letter of that document, still valid today, focused on security and cooperation in Europe.
But the spirit that arose from that meeting can have a more global significance, if we succeed in reviving and expanding it. A willingness of adversaries and competitors to engage in dialogue, to build trust, and to seek common denominators — that was the essence of the Helsinki Spirit. Its potential today is by no means limited to the OSCE area.
It is precisely that kind of a spirit that the entire world, and the United Nations, urgently needs. I am convinced that the more we speak about the Helsinki Spirit, the closer we get to rekindling it — and to making it come true. And that will bring us closer to solving our common challenges together.”)
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Excerpt from Vanhanen and Novaky article continues:
“In some ways, the idea of reviving the Helsinki Spirit can be seen as a response to US President Joe Biden’s plan to hold a Summit of Democracy, which would bring together like-minded democratic countries.
This is because Niinistö’s proposal stresses the importance of also engaging with those who do not necessarily share one’s own values and principles. From the perspective of global peace and stability, the latter is at least as important as the former.”