Finnish PM set 2020 goal for sustainabilty while the King of Malaysia asked for unity and harmony

The Finnish PM, Ms. Sanna Marin.

World leaders used their New Year messages to stress the importance of preserving the environment, while some discussed internal political issues and foreign policy.

Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin, the world’s youngest head of government at 34, said her goal was to make Finland “a financially responsible, socially equitable and environmentally sustainable society”.

“We are entering a decade during which we must find solutions for combating climate change,” Ms Marin said.

“This calls for decisions that reduce emissions. We will rely on scientific data, while taking account of the social and regional impacts of the solutions proposed.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was ardently fighting climate change, describing global warming as real and threatening.

“We have to do everything humanly possible to overcome this human challenge,” Mrs Merkel said.

“At 65, I am at an age at which I personally will no longer experience all of the consequences of climate change that will occur if politicians do not act.”

Former US secretary of state and first lady Hillary Clinton shared her own message about global warming, drawing attention to melting polar ice caps and bushfires in Australia.

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said one of his proudest achievements in 2019 was the unveiling of the country’s first electric car, which is set to go into production in 2022.

But Mr Erdogan touted the car as a sign of Turkish industrial might more than a commitment to the environment, saying the project “shows that our country is moving forward in the right direction”.

“In the last days of 2019, we all shared the joy of a project, which I believe made every one of our 82 million citizens proud,” he said.

Other New Year messages were imbued with more political themes, according to the national news.

The king of Malaysia, Sultan Abdullah, called on his compatriots not to entertain racial tension.

“I would like to remind all Malaysians to maintain the unity and harmony we have largely enjoyed over the past 62 years, because many issues related to racial and religious sensitivities have been raised lately,” he said.

“Just like our previous heads of state, I really wish to see my beloved country, Malaysia, continue to be united, harmonious and progressive.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appeared to skip his set-piece New Year speech, with analysts suggesting the move may have been to avoid implicitly admitting mistakes in the last two years of diplomacy with the US.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron used his New Year’s Eve address to say he hoped to find a rapid compromise with the country’s trade unions after a month of crippling strikes.

Mr Macron said he would push through an overhaul of the pension system but was intent on meeting unions. The unions are trying to force him to abandon his plans.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would bring his divided nation back together when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, telling Britons they were set for a “fantastic year and a remarkable decade”.

Fresh from winning a large parliamentary majority in an election just over two weeks ago, Mr Johnson said in a New Year’s message that his first job was to ensure Brexit was delivered, more than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, and then to heal the wounds the vote had opened.

“As we say goodbye to 2019, we can also turn the page on the division, rancour and uncertainty which has dominated public life and held us back for far too long,” he said.

“Now we have a new Parliament, elected by the people to deliver the people’s priorities, which will finally respect the referendum and deliver Brexit. So we’ll get Brexit done before the end of this month.”

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