Buenas tardes a todos,
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you all to this event to present the brand new Finnish Action Plan for Latin America and the Caribbean.
We have long traditions of cooperation with the countries of the region in immigration, trade and culture. Despite the impressive geographic distance, the links have always been there.
Today, Latin American and Caribbean countries are becoming even more interesting Partners for us. The prospects for the region are positive. Politically stable nations are developing their societies and economies as well as environment in a determined way. They are important political partners to us in economic and innovation cooperation as well as in solving global problems.
Finland has now to think ahead and find new, modern ways to cooperate with our Partners. We need less traditional projects or programmes run by Finns. We need more capacity building and sharing of expertise, models and best practices. We need more innovation, research and education. We need more cooperation between universities and Government Institutions, and more economic interaction.
This Action Plan will set our goals in main sectors of cooperation: political affairs, economy, environment, innovation and research, development and cultural affairs. It is meant to set new lines, and encourage more cooperation in all key sectors.
The preparation process of this Action Plan brought together all stakeholders in the Finnish society with a Latin American agenda. This is not only an MFA Action Plan. Ideas came from other Ministries, Government agencies, economic and cultural sectors, representatives of trade unions and a number of civil society organizations. It is a joint effort, and we are going to keep it that way: in the future, all interested in developing Finnish relations and activities in Latin America and the Caribbean, will meet more regularly and work closer together in the region in a Team Finland spirit.
We are also open to ideas coming from our Latin American Partners, and the Embassies which do invaluable work here in Finland. I have the great honour to welcome all the Ambassadors and colleagues to attend this event and share their views with us.
We intend to increase our political dialogue with Latin American and Caribbean countries both bilaterally and in international context. There is plenty of potential for cooperation in global governance. For instance, Finland is working together with Costa Rica and Argentina for agreeing on a long overdue, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty. Other important themes include among others climate change and fight against organized crime.
As part of our action plan we intend to update our Embassy network in Latin America. This includes opening a diplomatic representation in Bogota
Finland participated in the recent EU –CELAC Summit in Santiago de Chile. CELAC countries are strategic partners to the EU. Our regions have many features in common. There is a great potential for more active political cooperation and promotion of our common values. The Santiago Declaration proves the multitude of global issues where we have found common ground.