CLOSURE OF EMBASSY IN PAKISTAN IS TEMPORARY - H.E. Mr. Rauli Suikkanen

Founder Editor Tazeen Akhtar..

Tazeen Akhtar -Atif M Cheema

Exclusive Interview with Roving Ambassador of Finland to Pakistan (South Asia) H.E. Mr. Rauli Suikkanen

Roving Ambassador of Finland to Pakistan (South Asia) Rauli Suikkanen has said that the new Finnish Government will decide about when to open embassy in Islamabad. The New Government is expected to be formed after parliamentary elections in April. Rauli said the decision can take 3 to 5 years. He expressed these views in an exclusive Interview here in the second week of Feb 2015.

Here, it is worth mentioning that Finland closed the embassy in 2012. It was a big news in the media of Pakistan that portrayed it as if the security situation had compelled Finland to take this hard step.

While talking about the closure of the embassy, Ambassador dispelled the impression and made it clear that Finland Government, at that time, closed embassies in 15 countries only for economic reasons because of government austerity measures. Unfortunately Pakistan was one of those countries. It had nothing to do with security problem. He further told that “The closure of our embassy is temporary.”

When  asked what is the present status of contacts between the two countries, Mr Rauli replied “I visit Pakistan 6 times in a year. I am working in Islamabad, visiting Lahore, Karachi also.”

“No doubt, it is a challenge to maintain the things but we are doing our best. Whenever , I visit Islamabad, I have meetings with all concerned.” The Ambassador continued.

 

To a question that all other Nordic countries have full representation in Pakistan and the envoys of these countries are very active in promoting bilateral ties, only Finland does not have such relations with Pakistan, Mr. Rauli said that I have Honorary Consuls representing Finland in  Karachi and Lahore. In addition there are two Finpro (Finnish Government Promption Agency) local consultants.  Ms. Sadia Khan in Karachi and Dr. Durre Ahmed are my very active representatives in Karachi and Lahore. Honorary consul to Islamabad  will be appointed soon.  And as I told you earlier that I visit Pakistan 6 times a year. So Finland is here and work is going on.”

Mr. Rauli said that first year after the closure of the embassy was difficult but now we are active and mutual relations are being enhanced in different sectors. Agreement of cooperation between Museum Association of Finland and Comsats is the latest example. Further there is huge potential to boost the already warm relations between the two nations.

While talking about details of the trade and economic cooperation, the Ambassador said that “more than 10  Finish companies had an interaction with Pakistan last year. I hope it will result into more agreements of working together. Presently 5 companies have major  operations in Pakistan in a wide range of technology and infrastructure. They include from energy to telecom and paper to high tech. Nokia used to be the market leader in Pakistan. Nokia is now part of Microsoft but the Network Nokia, Nokia Solutions Network (NSN) is  still an acvtive player in Pakistan.

The Ambassador emphasized that the recently established Finland-Pakistan trade council is playing a very important role in developing the trade relations between the two countries. The Council organized  first ever Finland Pakistan business Summit a year ago in Islamabad and the next event will be held soon. I expect a great number of important Finnish companies to participate.

Finland is a member of European Union. Talking about this position utilized for strengthening relations with Pakistan, the Ambassador said that we work in the Union for the benefit of Pakistan. Our support was there for GSP Status that has increased Pakistani exports to E.U more than 20 %. (Figures issued by reliable sources say that the exports increased to $ one billion).

 

Ambassador Rauli appeared very positive regarding future of mutual relations especially in economic sector. He said that Finland is playing her role in the development of Pakistan. We wish peace and stability to Pakistan. In fact, Finland desires peace both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

 

“Pakistan is a multi party democracy. That is good for the system. Transfer of power from one civilian government to another was observed by the world with great satisfaction and appreciation. This shows democracy is taking its roots. “

 

To yet another question about Pakistan’s role in war on terror the Ambassador said“Finland stands with Pakistan in this war. Our all out support is there. But the basic responsibility lies with Pakistan herself. Pakistan has a strong Army and other institutions. ”

 

When asked to comment on the Kashmir issue, Mr. Rauli said that Kashmir problem was between Pakistan and India therefore both Islamabad and New Delhi ought to sit on the negotiating table in order to resolve this issue.

 

Finland—Pakistan relations

 

The relations were established on 12 January 1951 and for many years they were mostly focused on trade and economic co-operation. In the recent years Finland has also contributed financially to development co-operation and humanitarian aid in Pakistan, for example by making significant donations to the World Bank's Multi Donor Trust Fund for the reconstruction of the Pakistani border region. The last Finland-Pakistan political consultations were held in Helsinki in April 2014.

There is no Embassy of Pakistan in Finland, but Finnish residents may receive consular services from the Embassy of Pakistan in Stockholm. The Finnish Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, was temporarily closed in August 2012 due to budgetary cuts by the government. Now the Finnish Roving Ambassador to South-Asia, Mr. Rauli Suikkanen, is in charge of the Pakistan-relations, with an emphasis on developing economic co-operation. His office is based in Helsinki at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

 

Pakistan’s top exports to Finland are articles of apparel & clothing, woven fabric (synthetic staple fibre), woven cotton fabric, bed, table, kitchen linens, articles & equipment of gymnastics, men’s suits & jackets, articles of cutlery, women suits & dresses, gloves, mittens, electro medical apparatus, track suits & T-shirts etc.

However important items that Pakistan imports from Finland are electric and telecommunication equipment, parts for motor engines, enzymes, chemical wood pulp, newsprint, pressure reducing valves, electric transformers, paper & paperboard, polymers of ethylene, electric motors & generators etc.

In 2012 - Pakistan imported commodities of about $ 188Mn while exports to Finland amounted to $ 52Mn which is comparatively quite low showing trade deficit between the two countries.

Finland is leader in the world in many modern technologies as its economy had grown from an agrarian to a highly industrialized one and Pakistan could take advantage of Finland’s experience to promote industry by developing close relations.)