ASTANA – Over 25 years of diplomatic ties, Kazakhstan and Finland’s strong and peaceful relationship has grown more intense, Finnish Ambassador to Kazakhstan Ilkka Raisanen said in a March 7 interview with The Astana Times.
“We have many exchanges at different levels based on good relations that our Presidents have. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been in Finland several times and our President, Sauli Niinisto, visited Kazakhstan. There is a very good chance that he might be visiting us during EXPO 2017. Finland has created a lot of goodwill in Kazakhstan and our main achievements are in the sectors of education and gender equality, disarmament and peacebuilding, which are all very much of interest in Kazakhstan. The Finnish and Kazakh people are sharing the same interests on the world stage. We both enjoy this cordial relationship in our bilateral relations and we have many common interests,” the ambassador pointed out.
At the upcoming Astana EXPO 2017, Finland will be the only participating Nordic country. The theme of the Finnish pavilion is Sharing Pure Energy. Finnish energy efficient solutions, energy production and distribution will be presented during three months of the exhibition. Its pavilion will also demonstrate digital solutions, education, health technologies and world famous Finnish design.
“We would be ready and willing to cooperate in the sector of energy, renewable energy, clean technologies and also technologies that are fit in very cold and extreme climate situation that we have in Finland and in Kazakhstan,” Raisanen said.
The ambassador expressed hopes on a big breakthrough in cooperation between both sides given direct flights that will be offered from Helsinki to Astana this summer by Finnair, the country’s largest airline.
“We encourage now more companies that were not previously in Kazakhstan to come. I hope that likewise many Kazakh companies will go to Finland using these direct flights. Finland is also a hub for northern European countries,” he said.
“Over the years, we have been very successful in student exchange. We have established ties within the Bolashak Scholarship; also, we have big cooperation in the field of nursing education,” the ambassador continued.
“Kazakhstan is modernising very fast and we are trying to be helpful in the modernisation of society. Of course, we are following very closely initiatives that President Nazarbayev has taken. The President’s 100 Concrete Steps also help us to find new ways to cooperate,” he emphasised.
The ambassador reiterated that Finland celebrates the centenary of its independence this year with numerous events throughout the country.
“Last year was a great year to celebrate 25 years of Independence of Kazakhstan. Now we have 100 years of Finnish Independence,” he added.
According to Saara Alhopuro, deputy director of the communications department on Europe and neighbouring areas of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, this summer especially will be a very interesting time to visit Finland.
“Finland will be full of different kind of events because the theme of centenary celebrations is ‘Together’ and there will be different cultural events, dances, nature activities and arts everywhere in Finland. Most of these events are organised by people themselves, so everyone is invited to participate. We do not try to mandate from the top how this is supposed to be celebrated, but actually, everyone in Finland decides and brings us the ideas,” she said to the paper.
According to the ambassador, Astana will also host a number of interesting events devoted the anniversaries.
“In May, we are organising jointly with the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs some activities related to 25 years of diplomatic relations we have had. Then, on June 5, with the Swedish embassy, we are organising a concert with the music of Jean Sibelius and some Swedish composers. Later, on June 20, we will mark the day of Finland at the expo site. We really hope that our leadership will be participating in that celebration. Independence Day is coming on Dec. 6. This is one of the main events for the country,” said Raisanen.