Words at the Reception in Lima, 13.1.2014

Dear Colleague, Minister Eda Rivas, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased and honoured to visit Peru with which Finland has shared for many decades intensive friendship and cooperation. Indeed, last year we celebrated 50 years of diplomatic relations between our countries. During this period not only our countries, but especially the world politics and global economy have undergone substantial changes. All countries have faced new types of challenges in trying to guarantee their sustainable growth and development. In this context, good multilateral and bilateral relations have become ever more important.

I am delighted to see that Peru and Finland have succeeded in cooperating in a fruitful manner and thus contributing to the welfare of their people and the international community as a whole. This visit provides us a good opportunity to explore together, how we can enhance further our good relations and what kind of new initiatives are needed.

Already in 1965 we signed an agreement on technical and economic cooperation. Since then, our cooperation included different infrastructure and social projects via donations and concessional credits.

In 1967, as Vice-president of the Secondary School Students Union in Finland, I was centrally involved in initiating the cooperation project, which was the first development program between our countries. We participated in the Nordic public fund raising campaign in favour of several development projects in Peru. I particularly remember that with those funds, a pool of Finnish machinery was provided to SENATI, the main centre of vocational education in Peru. It is a great pleasure for me to see that nowadays Peru is one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America with huge economic and social potential.

In this context, it is time to rethink the ways that our countries can develop their relationship in a mutually beneficial manner. The transfer of knowledge and technology in sectors such as education, the maritime industry and clean technologies related to energy, forestry, mining and agriculture are – in my view – good places to start.

We welcome the Free Trade Agreement signed between Peru and the European Union which gives Peruvian goods an easier access to our markets. I look forward to seeing more and more products from the Peruvian highlands and rainforests reaching our supermarkets, promoting the impressive tradition of Peruvian cuisine.

Finland like its Nordic neighbours has been a consistent supporter of free and fair trade. At the same time we are also aware of the challenges that extending these agreements to include investment and other fields can pose. A predictable and regulated investment climate is a welcome aim for these agreements, but they have to be based on a proper balance between the rights and obligations of investors and host countries in, for example, solving disputes.

It is clear that our relations are no longer only a matter of governments. Thanks to innovative and horizontal instruments, the relations are more deep and run through multiple channels, allowing diverse actors of both sides to directly interact, collaborate and launch joint initiatives.

Peru is one of the main partners of Finland in South America. Its impressive biodiversity and its varied and millenary cultural heritage are well known worldwide. Its political and economic stability, its fast and sustained economical growth, and its current policies of inclusion are also noteworthy. As a result, Peru has been able to reach Millennium Development Goals in a way that has impressed the whole international community.

I am happy to note that we share the same visions and goals regarding democracy, the rule of law, human rights and security. Accordingly, both countries promote multilateralism and ever deeper integration with their main partners. One of the regional initiatives that I have been following with great interest is the Pacific Alliance. The pragmatic and innovative approach with which it has been developed promises very concrete results in a limited timeframe. I am happy to say that Finland aims to take an ever more active role in its relations with the Pacific Alliance in the near future as we have applied for an observer status in the Alliance. But economic development is not the only area where the power lies in cooperation. There are also many global problems, such as climate change, that need to be faced with a united front. Finland is ready to continue its fruitful cooperation with Peru also in this area, in the framework of the COP-20 meeting being held in Lima later this year.

Finland is also willing to continue supporting Peru’s agenda of inclusive development as well as the diversification of its productive activity and the modernization of its technical base in line with a transition towards a ”green economy”. I am glad to notice that, Finnish methods for research, innovation and education are already benchmarked in Peru.

During these last fifty years our strong bilateral mutual links and our dialogue on international matters have always been mutually beneficial. This is the best starting point for a promising future development of the relations between Finland and Peru.

Finally, I would like to propose a toast for our past 50 years of fruitful bilateral relations and their further deepening.

Thank you, Muchas gracias.