The January issue of Diplomacy and Trade featured a Nordic Focus on the relations between the Scandinavian countries and Hungary. Here, you can read the piece that the Finnish Ambassador, Jari Vilén contributed to the section.
The connection between our two countries has always been close and our distant language relation has given it special additional value. The first connection between our countries started long before our national independence: between scientists and artist. A small unique example of this is that our national artist, Akseli Gallen-Kallela, donated his favorite skis to the Gödöllõ museum in 1907 and they are still there!
Now, the two countries are partners in the EU and our relationship has become a partnership of common European values and challenges. Finland is committed to ensuring that the links between us will be expanded and developed further. The current financial crisis has shown all of us that even the biggest of us cannot survive alone, that we need each other and that our future lies in the capability to work together, regardless of whether we are a Euro-zone country or not.
Economic connections between Finland and Hungary have grown rapidly in the last decade after the restoration of democracy in Hungary. Finnish investment in Hungary now amounts to over EUR one billion and two-way trade of over EUR 800 million a year. There are some 170 Finnish companies active in Hungary and they employ around 20,000 people. Hungary is still an interesting destination for Finnish companies with Finnish investment and negotiations of new investments currently underway.
The Finnish embassy in Budapest has a wide range of activities, from EU co-operation to trade promotion, from cultural to consular work. We are in constant contact with Hungarian ministers, state secretaries and other policy makers, senior officials and also with NGOs, with whom we hold regular discussions on bilateral and EU issues, which all bind us together. There are extensive visits from the highest state level to the grass root level. These meetings help us understand each other better and give us an excellent opportunity to share our best practices.
The speed and depth of the reforms Hungary has initiated means additional challenges to the Embassy to try to comprehend and relay the changes to Finland and to Finnish decision makers. It is a special desire of the Embassy to interact with as broad a range of people as possible all over Hungary. We have made an extensive program of visits to various parts of Hungary and the programs always include meeting with mayors, visiting industrial parks and familiarizing ourselves with investment opportunities. Also visits to universities, relevant companies and meetings with local Hungarian-Finnish friendship association members are a self-evident part of the program.
Hungary and Finland are small open market economies dependent on foreign trade and challenged by globalization and global economic turmoil. Our success depends on our capability to be innovative, creative and on how well we can educate our young people to face all the challenges of the future while respecting the unique Finno-Ugric culture that we share.
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