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Old friends seek new, sustainable partnerships

Update: December, 06/2016 - 09:00
Kolovesi National Park in Finland. Photo Hannu Vallas
Viet Nam News

On the occasion of Finland’s National Day (December 6), Việt Nam News presents an article written by Ambassador of Finland to Việt Nam, Ilkka-Pekka Similä.

Today, December 6th, Finland celebrates its 99th Independence Day. Next year we celebrate 100 years of independence under theme "Together", highlighting our belief in equality, democracy and mutual care. Good education is a cornerstone of our society. These are the reasons we rank high on many indices.

Diplomatic relations between Finland and Việt Nam were established in 1973. Việt Nam has been one of the main partners for Finland’s development cooperation for almost four decades, during which its development has been remarkable. It has transformed from one of the poorest countries in the world into a lower middle income country with a fast growing economy and firm aspiration to become a modern and industrialised nation.

Development cooperation with Việt Nam has been focused on sectors in which Finland has a strong competence and long experience. This has resulted in pioneering outcomes in water supply and sanitation, sustainable management and protection of forests, and scientific and technological innovation.  "Finnish water" (Nước Phần Lan) is a notion and registered trade mark in Việt Nam.  The forest programme FORMIS is developing a nation-wide open-source and internet-based information system. The Finnish government was recently praised by the Vietnamese government for its long-term commitment and excellent results of the development of Việt Nam’s innovation and start-up ecosystem.

The bilateral relations are on a solid foundation. But it is also time to move on. We are now in transition in our relations and there are lots of new avenues to be explored for mutually beneficial cooperation. Việt Nam’s socio-economic development plans include a complete education system reform, stronger emphasis on environmental and climate sustainability,  private sector development, and creating conditions for start-up and innovation ecosystems development. Finland has the know-how,  technologies and solutions that are highly relevant to various priority areas of Việt Nam’s future development.

Our education system, for example teacher training, is best in the world. Finland has ranked high in different international comparisons relating to competitiveness and innovation. Cleantech Finland can offer a variety of technology and solutions, for example in renewable energy, water and waste water management, waste management and waste-to-energy. Finland’s healthcare export programme FinlandCare brings together companies, hospitals and specialist clinics that provide international customers with a wide range of world-class treatments, products and services. FinlandCare can match the growing needs of Việt Nam’s health care sector.

It is of utmost importance to enhance bilateral people-to-people interaction and cooperation, as well. We have good opportunities for this, for example in tourism. For Vietnamese, Finland can offer memorable moments. Four different seasons offer a large range of leisure and holiday pursuits. Finland, a 1,200-km-long country reaching the Arctic Circle and beyond provides winter sports slopes, hiking treks, crystal clean lakes and green forests, summer midnight sun and winter northern lights. You can enjoy city festivals or sounds of silence in the wilderness. Equally, Việt Nam’s natural beauty, vibrant cities and ancient culture draw more and more Finns to this country every year.

I wish all the Vietnamese and Finns in Việt Nam a happy 99th Independence Day. — VNS

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