(VNS) On the occasion of Finnish National Day tomorrow, Viet Nam News presents an article by the Ambassador of Finland, Kimmo Lahdevirta
|Reindeer games: Finland's Lapland region may be the true home of Santa Claus. – Photo courtesy Embassy of Finland
Finland is a Nordic country, independent since 1917 and with a population of about 5.3 million. It has been a member of the EU since 1995 and is a member of both the Schengen and the euro area. The land area is about the same as Viet Nam's, but there are about 100,000 islands and 190,000 lakes in Finland, and almost 70 per cent of the country is covered with forest. Seasons are very varied, with temperatures generally ranging in the summer between 15oC and 25 and in the winter between – 25oC and 0, with plenty of snow.
Among other things, Finland is known for its equality, efficiency, transparency, education, high tech, functionality and creativeness – in short, Finland works!
And thanks to its geographical location and good services, the capital of Finland – Helsinki – has become an important air traffic hub between Europe and Asia. Finnair, the national carrier of Finland, is planning to open a new direct route between Ha Noi and Helsinki in June 2013.
Diplomatic ties between Finland and Viet Nam were established on 25th January 1973 – just before the signing of the Paris Peace agreement. The Embassy of Finland in Ha Noi was established in 1974. During the 40 years the relationship between the two countries has matured and broadened. State and government level visits have been complemented by visits of high level business delegations and regional leaders.
Viet Nam has been one of the long-term partner countries of Finnish development co-operation. It is also one of the key beneficiaries of the partnership programme, aimed at creating business partnerships. Since 1973, Finland has assisted Viet Nam with about US$400 million.
Finnish innovations and expertise in areas such as water, forestry, clean technology and information technology are world class. Finnish solutions have also demonstrated their value in Viet Nam. Coupled with grant aid and concessional credits, Finnish knowhow has made important contributions to the development of Viet Nam, such as the water supply systems in Ha Noi and Hai Phong. The concept "Finnish water", born in these cities during the 1990s, expresses well both the sentiment and results of the co-operation.
Trade and commercial relations between Finland and Viet Nam have developed steadily. About 60 Finnish companies are represented in Viet Nam and according to Vietnamese statistics, Finland ranks 26th out of 96 investors to Viet Nam, with projects worth altogether some $335 million. The main investments are in the fields of information and communications technology, the packaging industry, carpentry and chemicals.
In 2011 trade between Finland and Viet Nam reached $232 million. The Free Trade Agreement being negotiated between the EU and Viet Nam is likely to increase trade between the two countries.
Finnish knowhow in the education sector also offers remarkable opportunities for the Vietnamese. Co-operation between Finnish and Vietnamese universities is increasing. In recent years about 750-800 Vietnamese university students have been studying in Finland, making them the second largest group of foreign students.
During the Jubilee year 2013 the Embassy of Finland will organise a series of cultural and other events in Viet Nam. A key event will be a touring exhibition of Finnish poster art, which comprises of 100 of the most important Finnish posters since the beginning of the 20th century. The high level exhibition will be put together by the Lahti Poster Museum, which has organised an internationally renowned poster biennale since the mid-1970s.
The Embassy is also planning to organise a series of seminars related to education, innovations, forestry, water and sanitation. Details of the events will be released in due course. — VNS