A brief Baltic visit
The visit of the President of Latvia to Turku
The President of Latvia, Andris Berzins made a state visit to Finland which took in a visit to Forum Marinum. While there he and the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, were made aware of Turku's work and achievements for the good of the Baltic Sea.
The Presidents arrived in Turku and went on board Suomen Joutsen. They then went to the Forum Marinum’s Archipelago Sea Square, where, in drizzling rain, Latvia's President Andris Berzins placed his own name plaque near to that of Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel.
The Archipelago square has been built by selling name plaques to private individuals and organisations, each of which has the name of the donor on it. Through the donations people demonstrate their desire to commit to protecting the important Turku Archipelago for all.
– The plaques can be seen as an example of Turku’s active participation in the protection of the Baltic Sea and as an indication of the know-how, which Turku has with respect to the conservation of the Baltic. A similar project would be possible to implement in other Baltic Sea countries, including Latvia, said the Chair of the Board of the City of Turku, Minna Arve, to the presidents.
During the visit to Forum Marinum the presidents were shown some of its treasures by its CEO Jaakko Tikka.
–Turku is well-known for its maritime-cluster and the world's largest luxury cruise liners containing the most advanced technology in the field are built here, stated the Mayor of Turku, Aleksi Randell, when continuing the maritime theme.
The Baltic is a living environment and source of livelihood for Turku
Mayor Randell also gave a short presentation on commerce, history and cooperation in the Baltic and its significance to Turku.
–Turku’s history as well as our future is inextricably linked to the Baltic Sea region, which is our “near abroad”. I think I can reasonably argue that we are one of the major decision-makers and actors in the northern Baltic Sea region. In the future, we wish to continue to have a strong influence on cooperation in the Baltic Sea region, which is why we continue to invest in it so strongly, he emphasised to the presidents.
In June of this year, it was confirmed that the 2014 Baltic Development Forum would be held in Turku. The BDF is one of the Baltic Sea region's most important annual gatherings of social and economic decision-makers. This decision was taken in Copenhagen at this year’s annual meeting
–The Baltic Sea and its beautiful archipelago are not only an important source of livelihood for Turku but also a living environment, which should remain clean and vibrant for all generations to come. For a long time Turku, together with other actors, has been concerned about environmental issues affecting the Baltic Sea and the archipelagos it contains. For example, Turku in conjunction with the City of Helsinki has also established the Baltic Sea Challenge - Cities for a Healthier Sea project.
Supporting Riga’s year as European Capital of Culture for 2014
To encourage Riga’s forthcoming Capital of Culture year, Mayor Randell gave a brief review of Turku's Capital of Culture year achievements.
– Our year as European Capital of Culture exceeded our expectations for several reasons, but chief amongst the reasons for our success was the common vision we held for Capital of Culture year. The realisation of this vision resulted from the commitment and dedication Turku’s leaders, residents, communities and artists gave on a voluntary basis, stated Mayor Randell when describing why the year was successful.
Latvia's Riga, along with Umeå, is the European Capital of Culture for 2014. Together they highlight the Baltic Sea – as happened last year with Turku and Tallinn.
–Due to our positive experience, Turku is ready to support Riga in a variety of ways in order to help the city realise its year as European Capital of Culture. In fact, Capital of Culture co-operation between Turku and Riga is already underway, he added.
– By way of reply, the President of Latvia, Andris Berzins said, “It is easy to see why the Capital of Culture year has been so successful. We are delighted to have already received your support and welcome Turku’s future support."
Before their arrival in Turku, the presidents met at Kultraranta and discussed, amongst other matters, bilateral issues, regional cooperation within the Baltic and partnership amongst the EU's eastern members.