Jaakko Kalela´s welcoming address at the "Soome Äripartnerina" seminar
Ladies and gentlemen,
I have the pleasure to welcome you on behalf of the Finnish Embassy. The success gained by this seminar is one proof of the great interest of Estonian and Finnish businesses in each other. The relations between our two countries are closer than ever during our long history. As independent states within the European Union, we build together a better Europe and a better world.
The economies of our countries are largely integrated into each other. Today, some one thousand Finnish enterprises are operating in Estonia. The interest of Estonian enterprises in the Finnish market is only awakening, but we warmly welcome Estonian entrepreneurs to Finland.
In trade, our close relations are clearly visible. On the one hand, Finland continues to be the most important trade partner of Estonia, and on the other hand, it trades with Estonia more than with all the nine other new EU members together.
However, the best proof of the close relations between our countries is provided by common people. Thousands and again thousands of Estonians and Finns cross the Gulf of Finland every day in order to work, visit each other and spend holidays. This year, the number of border-crossings will probably exceed the incredible figure of seven million.
It is gratifying that also the volume of travelling from Estonia to Finland is increasing. Last year, four hundred thousand (400 000) Estonians visited Finland. Some eight hundred thousand (800 000) Finns stayed overnight in Estonia, and some one million Finns paid a one-day visit there. These figures speak for themselves.
I do believe that in a global world Estonian and Finnish businessmen will have more and more interests in common. The earlier consern that the new EU member states might cause various threats to the old members has disappeared. It is time to look ahead and ponder what we can do together. As one vision of the future I would like to see a common economic area of the Baltic Sea states which is capable of competing with other strong economic areas of the world. Your work will play a key role in realising this vision.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In economy, like in all other sectors, the success of Estonia as a brother nation is a proud boast of the Finns and also a benefit for us. The most important task of the Ambassador and the whole Embassy of Finland is to strengthen the cooperation between our countries in all respects, also when it comes to economy and trade. We do hope to see increasing numbers of Estonian entrepreneurs in Finland.
You are all welcome to the reception to be held at the Embassy of Finland today at 5.30 pm. I wish you a most productive seminar day!