Hi-tech Finland has a lot to offer to Iran: ambassador

February 3, 2016 - 0:0

TEHRAN - Recently, we have witnessed an unprecedented flow of foreign high-level visits to Iran by officials and trade delegations from the four corners of the world on the back of the nuclear accord signed between Iran and world powers. 

Among others, European countries have been more active during the post-sanctions era, with Finland being one of the countries. Leading one of the biggest trade delegations ever dispatched to a foreign country, Lenita Toivakka, the Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, arrived in Tehran in December 2015.
Minister Toivakka hailed the post-sanctions Iran as a flourishing time for the country and partner nations including Finland.
To see how the future of bilateral ties between Iran and Finland will unfold, the Tehran Times sat face-to-face with Harri Kamarainen, the multilingual Finnish ambassador to Tehran, to discuss issues mainly of cultural and economic relevance. In what follows, a transcript of the interview has been presented:
Q: How do you evaluate Tehran-Helsinki bilateral ties?
A: This year has been a very interesting year in Finland-Iran relations since we have seen an increase in the number of important visits and activities on the part of both sides. Actually, already a year and a half ago, my Foreign Minister, Erkki Tuomioja, paid an official visit to Iran. I can say that his visit opened a new chapter in the political relations between our two countries. At the beginning of December, one month ago (from the time the interview was held) my Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Ms. Lenita Toivakka came to Tehran with one of the biggest trade delegations ever dispatched to a foreign country. Her visit opened a new page in trade and economic relations between Finland and Iran.
When it comes to cultural cooperation, we already have good connections between Finland and Iran. Last year, Tehran Municipality decided to renovate the Golden Palm – a Finnish monument situated on one of the beautiful hills in Park-e Mellat. The renovation work was carried out by a talented Iranian sculptor, Ebrahim Eskandari, and now the monument is as shiny and beautiful as it was when it was first brought to Tehran 40 years ago by our famous Finnish sculptor Ms. Eila Hiltunen.
In the spring of the new Iranian year, after Iranian Nourooz, there is going to be an important event in our cultural relations. For the first time, Shahnameh by Ferdowsi will be published in the Finnish Language. The translation has been done by Professor Jaakko Hameen-Anttila from Helsinki University. Previously, he has done a number of translations of Hafez, Sa´adi and Mowlana, among others. Actually, we were expecting the translation of Shahnameh to be published already last year but it was postponed because of a decision to add illustrations by a Finnish artist. Thus, in April this year we will be looking forward to a literary milestone in our cultural relations. As you can see, in many areas we have now more and more contacts and interaction between our two nations.
Q: What are possible cooperation areas between the two countries now that your trade minister has visited Iran?
A: Our minister for foreign trade was very pleased with her recent visit to Iran. The fact that she was accompanied by representatives of all major Finnish companies clearly shows the interest in Iran among the Finnish business community. Many years ago, we used to have a lot of trade between Finland and Iran but, unfortunately, during the past years the contacts have been reduced. In this new post-sanction era, we are all looking forward to again increasing and broadening the contacts.
I believe, there are many fields where Finnish experience and achievements could be of interest for Iran. One is environmental protection. Finland is a country where we attach great importance to the environment because we, like Iranians, love the nature. For us, it is very important to have clean water, clear air, and healthy forests. Forests are the green gold of my country. The air and water quality in Finland is ranked among the best in the world. In Finland we have developed a lot of technologies relevant to this area.
That is why my Minister for Environment and Agriculture, Kimmo Tiilikainen, will be visiting Iran in the end of February upon the invitation of her Excellency madam Ebtekar, the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In September last year Madam Ebtekar visited Finland. Minister Tiilikainen will bring along to Iran representatives of our leading companies in the field of environmentally clean technologies. I believe, this can be one future cooperation area between Finland and Iran.
Another key area that could be of interest for Iran is modern health technologies. Currently, this is the fastest growing sector of Finnish export activities. Finnish smart hospitals and pharmacies, excellent technology for cancer research, etc. are areas many countries in the world are interested in. I know, Iran is a country with high medical standards and I believe Iranian hospitals could be interested in benefitting from Finnish health technologies.
As you see, Finland is not only Nokia and Angry Birds. Many other Finnish innovations and products have become well known all over the world. Vessels equipped with powerful Finnish diesel engines sail today on all seven seas of the world. Engines produced by Wartsila Company are ranked among the most environmentally friendly diesel engines. Another Finnish innovation is smart elevators. If you take the elevators of skyscrapers of China and Dubai, you will most likely be travelling in elevators manufactured by the Finnish KONE Company. KONE is a global leader in elevator and escalator industry. And, you should not be surprised, but the successful story of Nokia continues. Nokia has now become one of the world leaders in the network business.
There are also many Finnish traditional products that enjoy huge popularity in the world. For example, the Finnish registered trade mark Thermo Wood which is used as a building material for building facades and patios. The thermal treatment process of this high quality wood is environmentally friendly and makes the wood water and weather resistant. 
Among other areas for joint cooperation is the production of dairies and machineries related to dairy producing factories. Finland has developed modern technologies in this area and there are cooperation opportunities in this field, as well.  
I hope that this year we will see even more Iranian business delegations visiting Finland in order to become familiar with the latest achievements of our industry. And for Iranian tourists, the Finnish clean and untouched nature and many cultural activities can offer unforgettable experiences and a well-deserved break for people used to a busy urban lifestyle. I warmly welcome the readers of the Tehran Times to visit Finland – be Fanland kheyli khosh amadid (Welcome to Finland!).


In April this year we will be looking forward to a literary milestone in our cultural relations.

For the first time, Shahnameh by Ferdowsi will be published in the Finnish Language