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Advisory board for ethnic relations: Better dialogue leads to a better life for everyone

Ministry of Justice
Publication date 31.3.2016 15.06
Press release

This year, the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations ETNO aims to promote a dignified culture of dialogue. The Advisory Board, which was appointed by the Government in February, held its first meeting in Helsinki today, on 31 March.

- Based on public discussion and the media, our culture of dialogue is faced with challenges. People both oppose and defend immigration and diversity in society. It seems that opposing or defending anything is more important than the content of discussion. In the name of freedom of speech, discussion that offends other people's basic or human rights must not be allowed, said Chair of the Board Asko Välimaa, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice.

Trust and listening to others were emphasised also by the Vice Chairs of the Board, Päivi Nerg, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of the Interior, Said Aden, Head of Employment of the City of Espoo, and Päivi Räsänen, Member of Parliament.

- The culture of dialogue also leaves its mark on people's everyday lives, it is not a separate part of our sense of security. Concerns and fears are the driving force of the media, but positive news must also gain a foothold in people's minds. We need dialogue that increases trust between people, discussion that focuses on solutions and on the future, Nerg said.

- An efficient dialogue requires equal participation by all parties of the discussion as well as consideration of and respect for dissenting opinions. Public concerns must be addressed by means of presenting facts. We don't need confrontation, emphasises Aden.

Räsänen appealed to political opinion-makers.

- We as politicians, in particular, must set an example of conducting dialogue that respects the other party. This doesn't require changing one's own opinions or conviction. Instead of blaming others, we need debate on solutions. Many organisations, for instance, are doing good work in this matter.

According to Prime Minister Sipilä's Government Programme, immigrants enhance our innovation capacity and increase our know-how by bringing their cultural strengths to Finnish society. The Government will encourage open debate about migration policy but will not tolerate racism. In accordance with the Government Programme, we will promote a tolerant and humane national discussion culture.

Under the Constitution Act, the responsibility for the promotion of basic rights is borne in the first place by the public authorities. In reality, we all are responsible for the promotion of these rights. The Advisory Board noted that each of us must take care of this in everyday life.

The promotion of a dignified culture of dialogue requires that ethnic relations are addressed on a wide front. The Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations seeks to advance positive attitudes between different population groups and to oppose hate speech and racism. When different population groups engage in positive interaction and collaboration, a dignified dialogue ensues. In an open culture of dialogue, everyone is invited to participate irrespective of their views and this increases the sense of trust, solidarity and security in society.

In order to encourage everyone to participate in dignified dialogue, the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations will launch a campaign on social media: ”Use hashtag #fiksukeskustelu - ota kantaa on social media and post good remarks and constructive acts!”


Peter Kairuki, Senior Advisor, Secretary General of the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations, tel. +358 2951 50191 and

Nina Suorsa, Advisor, Secretary of the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations, tel. +358 2951 50279, email: [email protected]

About the Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations

Composition of the Advisory Board

Jari Lindström
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