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The Warsaw Voice » National Voice » November 30, 2010
Finland in Poland
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A Community of Cooperation
November 30, 2010   
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Finland’s ambassador to Poland Vesa Himanen talks to Marcin Pawlak.

In what ways are Finland and Poland working together in the EU?
Cooperation between member states is a routine, regular thing. The EU covers a wide range of issues and preparation and cooperation on the issues takes place in Brussels, and in this case in Helsinki, and here in Poland. Here in the embassy, we’re in contact almost every day with the Polish authorities.

What areas could be improved?
Well, some areas will be intensified automatically as Poland takes over the EU’s rotating presidency in six months for the second half of next year.

That means the roles will be different next year, and during this time as well as in the years ahead there will be a number of issues we will be discussing. One of the things the EU will have to decide on are the financial perspectives of the EU’s long-term outline budget, and certain areas of specific interest to our countries such as the EU’s economic governance, EU cohesion policy, and Eastern relations, Eastern partnership with non-EU members such as Russia, where Finland and Poland have common interests. These are the areas which will be most intensified.

Will Finland’s experience be useful to Poland when it takes over the EU presidency?
I would say that Poland as a big EU member state is well-prepared for the presidency. I have been observing the preparations and Poland is doing the right things. Finland has had the presidency twice already, and there are some practical issues on which we are exchanging information and trying to help with, for a first-time presidency holder like Poland. I think that’s normal.

What is the secret of Finland’s economic success?
You can talk about some sort of success story if you look at developments after World War II. After the war Finland was a poor country, a developing country, a rural country. Today it’s a well developed industrial country and there are some basic factors behind this. One of the most important factors is our basic education system which gave equal opportunities to all to have good basic level of knowledge, and then access to higher education. That’s one reason. Our biggest weakness, which is our remote location, is another factor which caused us to work harder and be innovative. Another cause is globalization and free trade, which helped us, and we developed as a country where exports are extremely important in our economy.

However, I must issue a reminder that the future is not guaranteed. In Finland we are coming across challenges. We have an aging population, and in this globalized world especially, hi-tech production can be easily moved across borders. We have to work hard and try to solve those problems, and not only in Finland.

Which Finnish companies have been most successful in Poland?
There are some 200 or so companies in Poland of Finnish origin. A hundred have production in Poland, so it is very difficult to list them. They cover a wide range of industries from paper production to research and development. However, I may say that Poland’s favorable economic situation compared with almost any other country in the EU has helped those companies flourish and be successful in Poland.

Poland and Finland have developed strong cultural ties. What can we expect over the next year?
Finland and Poland have intensely cooperated in terms of culture for a long time and this tradition is continuing. We hope that the Lahti Symphony Orchestra and the YL male voice choir—one of the biggest male choirs—will be performing in Warsaw and Wrocław. That’s one example of this cultural cooperation.

Have you written your letter to Santa Claus?
Not yet, but I would encourage the readers of The Warsaw Voice to do it urgently. I as a representative of Finland have other means of doing so.
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