Puhe Euroopan Nuorten Parlamentin alueellisessa istunnossa Mikkelissä

Lenita Toivakka
EYP Euroopan Nuorten Parlamentti
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Madame/Mr President, vice presidents, dear friends
Thank you very much for the opportunity to visit you here today. It is an honor to meet so many young people engaged in European politics and especially it’s a great pleasure to have you here in Mikkeli. As a member of Finnish parliament I highly appreciate the idea to bring together young people from different countries. The EYP is a fantastic possibility to discuss European Issues, build cooperation and meet friends from other countries.  I have heard you have two intensive days ahead I want to wish luck and fun for the work you will do.
Promoting the active participation of young people in politics is an important objective of the government. Young people should be given the possibility to influence politics at all levels - from the local level to international level. This event shows that young people want and they will participate in politics. It is not unusual to hear that young people are not interested or engaged in politics. There must be several reasons for that. And we older politics really must look to the mirror.
Active participation of young women and men is important for various reasons. Political decisions will be more well founded if as many points of views as possible are taken into account. However, young people don't always necessarily want to participate in the traditional organisations, such as political parties. Even though young people are very welcome in the traditional structures of politics, at the same time we must also support young people's own, and sometimes new, forms of organisation. Therefore, voluntary groups and e-participation among the young at all levels is therefore seen vitally important.
My party, National Coalition has launched an EU declaration last year called How Bring Hope to Europe. The declaration itself outlines party´s vision for Europe, as well as the main policy areas that are important today and in the future. The basic vision is, that we need commitment to joint values and also global responsibility - "Europe is not just for the pursuit of one's own interests!" Coalition party suggests more central role for the EU in advocating European values around the world. EU should embrace the new possibilities for this in the Lisbon treaty. The EU should be the vanguard of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
We have achieved a lot by our cooperation in Europe. But on the other hand challenges of today (financial crisis, growing unemployment, climate change, security) create more expectations and more need for cooperation.
But let´s come back to South Savo and Mikkeli. You are warmly welcome to this beautiful area in eastern Finland. Savo is located near two European metropole areas, Helsinki and St Petersburg. Within 300 kilometres here lives around 10 million people. What makes Savo unique is, most of all, its nature including the lake area called Saimaa. Saimaa is this area´s big opportunity and you can even call it second Lapland in the global point of view. We have not yet managed to create our branch attractive or famous enough, but I believe this area has wide possibilities in tourism. We must understand that what is everyday life for us is exotic those visiting our area. These things include clean, untouched environment, silence, security, four seasons and so on.
I hope you have some time to see the town ( the big hole at the market place) and surroundings during this weekend. I wish you a good and productive meeting and intensive debates. I hope you enjoy your time in Mikkeli.