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My gratitude and thanks to the Prime Minister [of Finland, Juha Sipilä], to the Foreign Minister [of Finland, Timo Soini], to the Mayor [of Oulu, Päivi Laajala], for their excellent hospitality but, first of all, for the work that Finland is starting to do with the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and, in general terms, to lead the work we are doing in the European Union on the Arctic.
The Arctic is extremely important for the European Union, for the entirety of the European Union, and we know how much this is relevant for all of Finland. Finland can count on the European Union's full commitment when it comes to the Arctic work we are doing together and this is why I believe these two days of conference here in Oulu will be extremely important for all of us: from North, to South, East and West. This is a policy field where the European Union has launched its own strategy last year.
I am proud as a southern European to lead this together with [European] Commissioner [for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu] Vella, because this is the added value of the European Union: being there with all our power, which is relevant when it comes to environmental issues, when it comes to the implementation of the Paris agreement on climate change, when it comes to economic sustainable development, when it comes to security and cooperation. You know that you can count on having the entire European Union at your side as you take the leadership in the Arctic Council.