“I am highly motivated and feel that this really is a unique opportunity,” she says. Referring to turbulence in Europe and elsewhere in the world, the new Secretary General points out that faith in Nordic co-operation has increased in recent years.
“The Nordic nations – the Nordic family – feel like stable and reliable partners at a time when the rest of the world is less predictable,” she says. “It is both inspiring and interesting to be given the opportunity to work on Nordic co-operation at this particular point in time,” Lehtomäki adds.
Despite the fact that the Nordic Region is one of the most gender-equal in the world, it is the first time that a woman has been appointed to the post. She is also the youngest ever Secretary General.
“I think it is an important signal that the Nordic Council of Ministers chose a woman in the middle of her career as the new Secretary General. I take up my new job full of energy for the challenges ahead,” she points out.
Paula Lehtomäki was elected to the Finnish parliament in 1999 and served as a Centre Party MP for 16 years. She was Minister of Foreign Trade and Development 2003–2007 and Minister of the Environment 2007–2011. She took six months of maternity leave during both periods as a minister. She was also a member of the Nordic Council from 1999 to 2003 and sat on the Adjacent Areas Committee.