Mayor Katja Dörner warmly welcomed the guests to Bonn's parlor and said: "As a federal city, Bonn is the second official residence of the Federal President, and we are therefore very pleased to once again welcome a state visit to the Old Town Hall." She recalled that signatures from distinguished visitors from all over the world adorn the city's Golden Book. "Following Bonn's transformation from the federal capital to the German city of the United Nations, high-ranking UN representatives in particular, such as former Secretaries-General Kofi Annan and Ban Ki Moon, as well as winners of the Alternative Nobel Prize and the International Democracy Prize, have signed our Golden Book."
Dörner also referred to the many good connections between Bonn and Finland, to which the German-Finnish Society has contributed with great commitment for around 35 years. Since 2013, the City of Bonn has been working together with the City of Turku under the European project "Nice to work with you". As part of the European exchange program, many employees of the city administration have already taken the opportunity to gain insights into the working methods of the education and environment departments in Turku and have transferred the knowledge gained to their daily work in Bonn.
Golden Book: Fourth entry by a Finnish president
Sauli Niinistö is the fourth Finnish president to add his name to the collection of signatures. Three of his predecessors (Dr. Urho Kekkonen, 1979; Dr. Mauno Kovisto, 1989 and Martti Ahtisaari, 1994) and the President of the Finnish Parliament (Riitta Uosukainen, 1996) have already signed the book.
The Golden Book of the City of Bonn documents both the history of the city and the history of the Federal Republic of Germany: crowned and uncrowned heads of state have signed it, as have personalities from politics, science, business, art and sport. The Golden Book was introduced in 1926. The fourth volume was started on the occasion of the opening of the WorldCCBonn extension building in June 2015.
State visit to Bonn
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Elke Büdenbender received the President of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, and his wife Dr. Jenni Haukio in Bonn on 15 and 16 November 2023. The visit paid tribute to the close partnership between Germany and Finland, which established diplomatic relations 50 years ago.
Before signing the city's Golden Book, the Federal President and Elke Büdenbender had greeted the guests with military honors in front of Villa Hammerschmidt. Afterwards, a visit to the Beethoven House was also on the program. Elke Büdenbender and Jenni Haukio also visited the UN Climate Change Secretariat on the UN Campus in Bonn. On the second day of their visit, they took part in a session of the Children's Parliament at the Gottfried Kinkel Open All-Day School in Oberkassel, which is also a UNICEF Children's Rights School.