Timo Soini

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland

" The Arctic has a great potential. Better access to natural resources and the opening of new sea routes in the Arctic will bring benefits, but also challenges. The new opportunities oblige us all to work for sustainable development in the Arctic region. This will emphasize the leading role of the Arctic Council in producing outstanding scientific assessments and addressing the impacts of globalization and climate change. "

Meet the Finnish Chairmanship Team

Aleksi Härkönen

SAO Chair

I have had a long carrier in the MFA, doing mainly security policy and multilateral diplomacy. I have lived in Spain, Venezuela, Germany, the United States, Austria and in Finland´s southern neighbor Estonia. Highlights? Yes, I have participated in Finland´s chairmanship of the OSCE and advised the President on foreign policy issues. Now I enjoy doing something totally different, namely Arctic affairs, and look forward to cooperating with colleagues from the other Arctic States, Permanent Participant Organizations and Observers. I must admit that I also enjoy fishing, including ice fishing, picking mushrooms, canoeing, using a chainsaw and chopping wood.

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René Söderman

Senior Arctic Official

René joined the MFA in 1998 and has since worked with media relations, trade and development policy and most recently Arctic cooperation. He has been posted in Oslo, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Previously he worked as journalist in both press and TV. He enjoys cooking, singing and playing the guitar. Motto: "Let it swing!"

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Pekka Shemeikka

SDWG Chair

Pekka has been working in the past with the EU Rio+20 preparations and with Global Sustainability issues. He has wide experience from liaison with the EU institutions including working with the European parliament and chairing the General Affairs Working group as well as working for parliamentary relations of the High Representative. Pekka lives in Helsinki, loves walking in the nature, is a keen sailor and enjoys navigation.

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Ritva Hautanen

Arctic Officer

Ritva has 18 years of experience in foreign and security policy. Her current portfolio includes general Arctic affairs, security policy aspects of the Arctic and the EU’s Arctic policy.

Earlier assignments have taken Ritva from Brussels to Georgia and Afghanistan.

Ritva enjoys building bridges at work and also literally!

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Tuuli Ojala

Adviser to the SAO Chair, Head of Delegation to SDWG

Prior to joining the chairmanship team in late 2015, Tuuli was involved in environmental and climate co-operation in the Barents region and in enhancing wastewater treatment in the Baltic Sea region. She has carried out a variety of long and short term projects in the academia, in NGOs and in the municipal sector. Tuuli is enthusiastic about clean air and water as well as beautiful landscapes – not to mention good cycling routes.

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Annariina Kukkonen

Conference Coordinator

Annariina has worked almost 20 years at the MFA. Her expertise includes organizational work, protocol issues and administrative affairs. She has been posted in New York, Washington DC, Kiev and St. Petersburg. She lives in Lahti and commutes 100 km daily by train to work and back. In her words “As the mother of two young children, the two hour commute is fabulous. That is the time for myself.”

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Martta Rissanen


Martta has been working at the MFA for two and half years at different departments, such as the economic relations and political department. An internship at the Embassy of Finland in Kuala Lumpur taught her bilateral relations and local culture.

Her career plans include working as a diplomat for the Foreign Ministry, perhaps regarding trade related issues. She already has international experience from Vietnam, China, Malaysia and the UK.

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Harri Mäki-Reinikka


Currently he is Secretary General of Finland's Advisory Board on Arctic Affairs, Ambassador and Special Adviser on northern policies at the MFA’s Arctic Team (since 1.9.2016). He worked as Ambassador of Finland to six countries – to Lithuania and Belarus in 1.1.2013 -31.8.2016 and to Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan in 1.9.2008 – 31.1.2012. He was Deputy to the Minister and Chief of the Secretariat for Nordic Cooperation at the MFA in 2005-2008. He has gained experience on arctic issues already through his involvement in the Northern Dimension process in 1996- 1998.

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