Minister Pertti Salolainen Lauds contribution of Consuls

June 18, 2015 | News

Pertti Salolainen

Seen from left: Hon. Harry Blassar, Secretary of the Consular Corps of Helsinki, Hon. Virachai Techavijit, Director of FICAC, Hon. Amarkai Amarteifio, Vice President of FICAC, H. E. Minister Pertti Salolainen, former Deputy Prime Minister and Ambassador to Great Britain, Hon. Harry Berner, Dean of the consular Corps of Helsinki, Hon. Arnold Foote, President of the World Federation of Consuls and Hon. Costas Lefkaritis, Director of FICAC.

The keynote speaker at the opening of the FICAC Helsinki Consular Conference was Minister Pertti Salolainen, former Deputy Prime Minister and Ambassador to Great Britain, and the current Chairman of the Foreign Policy Committee in the Finnish Parliament. He commenced his address by presenting a survey of Finnish history.

First 800 years, part of the Kingdom of Sweden, and from 1809 an autonomous Grand Dutchy of the Russian Tzar, lasting until 1917, when Finland declared independence at the time of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. During the Swedish period there were many wars against Russia, and therefore the 19th century was very much a century of peace. The autonomous status meant that the Finns could look after their internal affairs to rather a notable extent. In 1865 Finland even got its own currency, the Finnish Mark, resulting in the fact that the economy did not have to depend too much on the fluctuations of the Russian Ruble. However, in 1918 there was a civil war, as part of the population wanted to follow the example of communism in Russia, and during the Second World War, Finland had to defend itself against the Soviet Union, and at the end of the war, also against Hitler’s Germany. Independence was maintained, and Finland was the only country, apart from Great Britain and the Soviet Union, amongst those European nations which were involved in the war, which was not occupied by a foreign state. But losses were heavy, 90,000 fallen men, many more became disabled, and 10% of the territory had to be surrendered according to the peace treaty. Nowadays, Finland is a member of the European Union and the economy is highly developed. 50 years ago the country was still a principally agrarian society, and the export industry was very one sided, 90% consisting of products of the wood working industry. Gradually metal and machinery industry, chemical industry and ship building made the production more versatile, and lately the IT sector has become very important as well, with Nokia as the leading star on the Finnish innovative manufacturing field.

Mr. Salolainen spoke also about the EU and how he was amongst the politicians who participated in the negotiations about Finnish membership to the European Union. Furthermore, he mentioned that during his 8 years as Ambassador in the UK, he received a lot of assistance from the many Honorary Consuls representing Finland in Britain. Therefore he was pleased to now be able to talk to the gathering of Honorary Consuls both from abroad and from his own country, knowing that they all are contributing to good relations on many fields between their Sending State and the Receiving State, where they are carrying out their valuable Consular Duties.