Why do we need SAIA and FAIA?

Speech by FAIA´s president Joel Linnainmäki at the SAIA Forum Weekend in Uppsala, 12.2.2017

Thank you Rosaline for your speech and thank you all for having us.

My name is Joel. I´m the first, but hopefully not the last president of FAIA, the Finnish Association of International Affairs, founded last August.

FAIA would not exist without you.

And I want you to know: you inspire us every day.

You inspire us by the standards you set to your own work, with your ability to connect with young people in Sweden and with the warm welcome you have extended to us.

So why do we need organizations like FAIA and SAIA?

We live in extraordinary, but not unprecedented times, where the modern liberal world order is being stretched to its limits. But let´s be clear about one thing: there are no alternative facts. The alternative to a fact is a lie. Free speech means that you have a right to your own opinion, not to your own facts.

In a 1962 speech, the former UN Secretary-General, Dag Hammaskjöld cited a contemporary description of Sun Tzu and his students in 4th century BC China:

“Constantly rebuffed but never discouraged, they went around from State to State helping people to settle their differences, arguing against wanton attack and pleading for the suppression of arms, that the age in which they lived might be saved from its state of continual war. To this end they interviewed princes and lectured the common people, nowhere meeting with any great success, but obstinately persisting in their task till kings and commoners alike grew weary of listening to them. Yet undeterred they continued to force themselves on people´s attention.”

Democracy takes work. In other words: Foreign policy is too important to be left to the diplomats. Each one of you is needed, now more than ever.

Finally, I think it´s fitting that FAIA will turn one year old at the same time as Finland is celebrating its one hundred years of independence. The theme of Finland´s centennial year is Together, so it is especially nice to be here.

So, for today and tomorrow we are here to listen and to learn from you, to learn from the best. We hope to talk to as many of you as possible and hope that we´ll be able to see each other in the future as well. Please come and talk to us and engage us and give us any tips that come to mind.

Thank you.



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