Year 2017 is a year of celebration for every Finn and every friend of Finland, both in Finland and abroad. That is why the theme of the centenary "together". I'm glad that the Finnish community in Ireland has so eagerly engaged in planning and is carrying out events to celebrate SuomiFinland100.
The SuomiFinland100 theme follows the Embassy throughout this year in all our work, in everyday activities and festive occasions alike. By the way, did you know that general and equal municipality elections have been held in Finland on a regular basis since 1918? This is just one example of the important milestones in the history of independent Finland. Education, equality and rule of law play a major part in the Finnish success story. They are also among the subjects, where we can share our experiences and expertise with the Irish.
My term of office as Ambassador of Finland to Ireland commenced in January 2016. From the very beginning the main focus of my duties has been on increasing contacts and interaction between Finland and Ireland at all levels. The jubilee year had a fantastic start when the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Ireland met in Helsinki in early February. Ministers Timo Soini and Charles Flanagan both agreed that we should intensify our ties and dialogue even more. Europe is going through challenging times and the need to strengthen our co-operation is perhaps greater than ever before. Finland and Ireland resemble each other in many ways and there are many similarities also in our histories. I was very impressed how Ireland celebrated the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising last year.
The Embassy plans on welcoming various Finnish guests to Ireland this year. Finland and Ireland are located close to each other, we are only a three hour flight apart. In the summer season there will be at least one return flight every single day between Helsinki and Dublin! Finnish tourists have already found their way to the Emerald Isle, but our joint mission is to get the Irish excited about the uniqueness of Finland.
The Embassy provides all statutory consular services not only to Finnish citizens but also foreigners residing permanently in Finland. We promote trade and economy and the visibility of Finland in Ireland. My intention is to continue to travel all around Ireland and make Finland and our strengths known in different ways, by meeting local people from school children up to Lord Mayors. During these trips I hope to also meet many Finns who have settled in Ireland.
You are welcome to get to know us and our work.
With best wishes on the year of Finland's 100th birthday,