The President of Iceland, Guðni Jóhannesson, and his spouse Eliza Reid visited Turku on 17 May 2018. During the day, the presidential couple visited the start-up community SparkUp, University of Turku, Turku Castle, Åbo Akademi University, Forum Marinum Centre, and Joki Visitor and Innovation Centre.

The President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson, arrived in Finland with his spouse Eliza Reid for an official visit on 14–17 May 2018.  The visit was hosted by President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö together with his wife Jenni Haukio.

For the Turku part of the visit, the guests of honour were introduced to the Turku region’s business field and start-up activity, as well as the anti-bullying programme KiVa school, Turku Castle, and Åbo Akademi University. The visit ended with a tour in the Forum Marinum Centre. Lunch at Turku Castle was hosted by Mayor Minna Arve. Arve sees many new cooperation opportunities between Iceland and Turku and Finland.

– Turku and the south-west of Finland already have a great amount of know-how and significant business activity in circular economy, cleantech, and green growth. We can gain influences for these areas also from Iceland that is, similarly, a pioneer in environment-friendly solutions and has a high use rate of renewable energy as a nation, says Arve.

Initiation of KiVa school cooperation

At the University of Turku, the presidential couple was introduced specifically to the KiVa school programme by Professor Christina Salmivalli. Lastly, the University of Iceland, the University of Turku, and Finland University signed a joint declaration which enables the implementation of the KiVa school methods also in Iceland.

– We cannot just stand back and watch; each and every one of us must fight against all kinds of bullying in all areas of life, President Jóhannesson declared.

President Jóhannesson signing the university guest book. Next to him is Rector Kalervo Väänänen. Photo: Hanna Oksanen / UTU

Living history and positive patriotism

During the Åbo Akademi University visit, the theme of “Living History” was under examination, and the introduction was conducted by President Jóhannesson, a history researcher in his civil career.

The introduction was followed by a panel with topics of the popularisation and revitalisation of science and study of history, the responsibility of historians, and the Nordic history from 1918 up to this day.

– The Nordic countries are an amazing brand that should be utilised. But our story is also featured by all the negative events in the history which should not be swept under the rug. On the other hand, they also make our stories interesting, President Jóhannesson contemplated.

Turku inspires

The President was particularly impressed by Turku’s economic growth, sustainable development, and cleantech.

– In a nutshell, the day provided us with a good overview on both the future and past of Turku. I also felt that visiting the universities, especially the Swedish-speaking Åbo Akademi University, was important. Iceland and Finland have a great amount of wonderful cooperation between their universities. Of course, I wish that I could have spent more time in Turku! President Jóhannesson summarised.

For the end of the visit, the presidential couple explored the Forum Marinum Centre with the guidance of CEO Tapio Maijala. Photo: Samu Valleala