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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
05HELSINKI1210 2005-11-17 12:01:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Helsinki
Cable title:  

CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF PARLIAMENTARY REFORM IN

Tags:   PREL PGOV FI 
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HELSINKI 001210 

SIPDIS

EUR/NB, for MEVANS
EUR/PPD, for JLOCKARD
H, for JBORIS


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV FI
SUBJECT: CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF PARLIAMENTARY REFORM IN
FINLAND




1. (U) Summary and Action Request: This message contains an
action request. Please see para. 7.



2. (U) Charg and APAO called on the Secretary General of
the Finnish Parliament, Seppo Tiitinen, to discuss
celebration plans for the 100 year anniversary of the
Parliament beginning on June 1, 2006, and to offer Embassy
support for the numerous events Parliament will be
organizing throughout the two years of celebration. The
Secretary General informed us that Speaker Paavo Lipponen

SIPDIS
extended personal invitations to Senator Ted Stevens (R-AL)
and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) to attend the event
on June 1st. Tiitinen expressed an interest in having
Stevens and Hastert present for a gala opening ceremony
which will include the Speakers and Secretaries General of
parliaments from throughout the Council of Europe, as well
as from numerous other democracies. End summary.


Background


--------------------------





3. (U) In 2006, the Finnish Parliament will begin to
celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the parliamentary
reform of 1906, when universal suffrage was introduced and
Finnish women became the first in the world to receive full
political rights. In 2007, Parliament will commemorate the
100 year anniversary of the first plenary session of the
unicameral parliament. The theme for the celebrations
during these two years will be: "The right to vote - trust
in law. One hundred years of Finnish democracy." Tiitinen
remarked that the celebrations are scheduled to last for two
years and will focus on Finland's Parliament's evolution as
one of the most modern in the world and on programs designed
to appeal to younger audiences in an attempt to reverse
voter apathy.


Celebrations on June 1, 2006


--------------------------





4. (U) On the eve of the Finnish parliamentary celebrations,
the Speakers of the National Parliaments of Council of
Europe member states will have concluded their conference in
Tallinn, Estonia. The Finnish Parliament has arranged a
special ferry connection from Tallinn to Helsinki on the
morning of June 1, 2006. The invitations for Senator
Stevens and Representative Hastert request their presence
for a day of activities in Helsinki on June 1, 2006,
including an ecumenical church service at the Lutheran
Cathedral, a special session of the Parliament, a reception
in the State Hall, and an evening program at the Finnish
National Opera, which includes a banquet (note:
accommodation costs for U.S. Congressional representatives
will be covered by the Parliament). Tiitinen indicated that
he and Speaker Lipponen would be happy to host a bilateral
discussion with U.S. Congressional representatives to
address subjects of mutual interest, including intensifying
relations between the two parliamentary bodies.


Closing the Finnish Institute of International Affairs


--------------------------



--------------------------





5. (U) The special plenary session of Parliament will
announce the creation of a new independent, parliamentary
research institute, thus leading to the closure of the
Ulkopoliittinen instituuti (UPI) - Finnish Institute of
International Affairs (note: the Embassy has historically
enjoyed very close relations with UPI and its staff as they
functioned as one of our principal conference partners in
Finland and elevated the level of debate about Finland's
international security interests vis--vis the EU and NATO).
Tiitinen remarked that the new parliamentary institute will
be focusing very closely on the domestic and international
dimensions of European Union affairs. In separate
discussions with the APAO, Marjo Timonen, Head of
Information for the Parliament, noted that the thinking
behind the creation of a new parliamentary research
institute was shaped in the United States by Finnish visits
to Congress and several think tanks in Washington DC.


Embassy support for parliamentary celebrations


--------------------------

-



6. (U) The Charg praised the efforts and plans of Tiitinen
and his international relations staff as they manage the
gargantuan task of organizing Parliament's anniversary
celebrations with participation from all around the world.
She offered to provide Embassy assistance and support for
the celebrations and Tiitinen remarked that he was grateful
for U.S support and noted that we were the first mission in
Helsinki to approach him to discuss these plans and offer
support. The Embassy will be working closely with Tiitinen's
staff to identify opportunities for cooperation in these
events.



7. (U) ACTION REQUEST: The Embassy would appreciate any
information from H and/or EUR/NB on whether Senator Stevens
or Representative Hastert have confirmed that they will be
attending the Helsinki celebrations. Regards.