Statement by President of Finland Tarja Halonen
Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union, Mr. Touré,
Dear participants of the World Telecommunication and Information Society Day,
Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends,
Firstly, allow me to express my deepest regrets that I cannot be with you in
Geneva today. I am
pleased that Mrs Suvi Lindén, Minister of Communications, represents Finland at
ceremonies. The reason I myself had to stay in Finland is that the United
Panel on Global Sustainability is currently having its two-day meeting here in
Helsinki. I am
the co-Chair of the Panel and hosting our third meeting in my home country.
Via this video message, I would like to warmly thank the ITU and
Secretary-General Touré for
choosing me as one of the laureates of this year’s World Telecommunication and
Society Award. Also, I want to congratulate Mr Sam Pitroda and Ms Kristin
Peterson. I am
happy to share this recognition with you.
I am personally very honoured to receive the Award. But I consider that the
Award is a strong
recognition to Finland for the efforts to promote the use of and equal access to
nationally and internationally.
Finland is a remote and sparsely populated country in northern Europe. The
relatively large, with great distances, and we do not have many natural
resources. Thus, we
have had to build our success on human resources. Education is a crucial factor
approach. Education in Finland is free of charge and available for everyone –
for every boy and
girl regardless of their background. We also encourage people to keep alive the
joy of learning
throughout their lives.
From this starting point, it has been natural – and necessary – for us to rely
solutions. As an open economy, Finland is heavily dependent on our contacts with
the rest of
Finland has worked hard to develop an equitable and inclusive information
society. We were
the first country in the world to ensure – by legislation – that all our
citizens have the
opportunity to use digital services – irrespective of their place of residence,
whether in the city
or the countryside, or the level of their income.
Already now, a good and reasonably priced internet connection is everyone’s
right in Finland.
And by the end of 2015, high-speed, one hundred megabit broadband connections
available to nearly all homes, businesses and public administration bodies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Communications technology can provide effective tools for the empowerment of
development of democracy, the respect for human rights and the rule of law. ICTs
raise the standard of living in all places of the world.
The work of the ITU and the themes of the World Telecommunication and
Day coincide well with the aims of the Global Sustainability Panel and our
meeting here in
Helsinki. Clean technologies and equal access to ICTs can effectively promote
economically and ecologically sustainable development.
In Geneva, in 2003, we have all committed to build a people-centred, inclusive
development-oriented information society. And we have recognized that, in order
to attain the
United Nations Millennium Development Goals, access to ICTs is of key importance
especially in areas such as health care, the prevention of illnesses and – of
These are among the core areas of the Millennium Development Goals, and also
important to the promotion of the role of women.
So, let's be innovative and work together to ensure that we keep our promises.
Once again, I thank the ITU for the Award and for the great recognition to
Finland. I wish you
all a very good World Telecommunication and Information Society Day.