I believe this is one of those moments in history that we will look back. Evidently, because of the meeting of the two presidents, Trump and Putin, but also because of the global situation we are in. Liberal democracy in today’s world is truly at stake. The fall of Berlin wall was supposed to start the new era, leading to peace and democracy. Also in Russia. Instead, we are now living an era where less and less people live in a democratic countries. Autocratic leaders strengthen their positions, and the rule of law is weakening in many places. The current world order, based on multilateral agreements and diplomacy, has been challenged by admiration of force and ‘every man for himself’ -attitude. And this is what these two men, Trump and Putin, have in common. Contempt for democracy, Contempt for the international agreements, Contempt for human rights. They want to turn back the clock.
Withdrawing from significant multilateral agreements, such as the Paris climate agreement, is a signal of egoism and incapability to reflect the common achievements.
Trump and Putin, they think they are above the law, and that the justice system is there just to carry out their whims. They think judges and ministers who defend the law should be fired, because Trump and Putin want to rule by force, not by rule of law.
I truly wish that the two leaders have the wisdom to use this meeting as a chance to reverse the extremely dangerous nuclear competition between the United States and Russia. Extending the New START agreement would be the best outcome for this meeting. Both the USA and Russia can, and they must do their best to reduce tensions and the risk of conflict.
Today, the clash of values is real. So called traditional values oppose equality and everyone’s freedom to live, love and believe. There is an organised opposition to the liberal democratic values and the global human rights agenda, and both Trump and Putin support it. An essential means in this battle is information. It is vital to ensure the freedom of speech and independent media. Disinformation and dishonesty are powerful tools to transform societies, Creating mistrust and confusion and ultimately threatening civil societies’ prospects.
In the globalised world there are no more isolated islands, and the globalisation is here to stay. The only way to manage it is to set rules, together.
This is where the European values show their strength. Just months ago the new data protection came into force, and it is a great example of setting the common, needed rules. Internet knows no borders, and so should it be for data protection. Dear friends, Here in Finland, Here in the European Union, we value freedom, fundamental rights and democracy.
And if autocratic leaders have taught us anything, that would be for Europe to stand united and promote multilateral cooperation even louder. This is why we have gathered here today, because we believe that is the only way forward.
This is the message I cannot stress enough: We support the civil societies tirelessly working for human rights and democracy both in Russia and in the USA. We are gathered here today to show that, when we later look back to this moment, we did not stay silent. We care.