BYU welcomes Okko-Pekka Salmimies on the historic day of Finland’s NATO membership.
Finnish consul general Okko-Pekka Salmimies visited BYU on April 4, 2023, in partnership with the College of Humanities, the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies, and the International Vice President’s Office. During his lecture, “Explaining Finland,” he expressed deep admiration for Finland and all its accomplishments.
The day was special not only due to his visit but also because on that same day, Finland became the newest member of NATO.
Because of Finland’s unique geopolitical relationship with Russia, the decision came after years of deliberation. Since Finland and Russia share a border, Finland has historically sought to maintain peaceful relations with Russia by distancing itself from NATO. However, after Russia invaded Ukraine, Finnish leaders were greatly concerned with Russia’s aggressive behavior and requested to join NATO.
Salmimies also spoke about Finland’s many accomplishments, such as being voted the happiest nation in the world for the sixth year in a row. He attributed this to the government taking care of its citizens through gender equality, environmental action, social security, medical benefits, and a high-quality education.
In recent years, Finland has also become a major player on the world stage with companies like Nokia and Fiskars. Additionally, Finnish citizens excel in many sports. For example, Lauri Markkanen currently plays for the Utah Jazz.
Salmimies ended his lecture by jokingly referencing the lyrics “Finland is where I want to be” from Monty Python. Despite Finland’s geographically small size, the country contributes many technological, political, social, and scientific innovations to the world stage—all while being the happiest country in the world.