Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto (Photo: P.H)
Reporter: Vietnam has gradually been confirmed as one of the countries in Asia moving towards sustainable development. Could you please share your assessment of Vietnam’s construction and development process recently?
Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto: The Finland - Vietnam relationship, what we are doing together, is very much like what we have been - both trade and cooperation activities are in the sphere of the environment. So sustainable development and specifically environment and climate related issues, are very much the substance of our relationship.
Environment and sustainability issues are of course very important in the case of Vietnam, because Vietnam is a big economy and you have 100 million people.
I know that Vietnam has now a new law on environmental protection. We are still in the work of studying the impact of that new law and of what possibilities it can give to us. And I think this is a challenge for you because people in Vietnam, just like people in Finland and everywhere, want to live a good life, and to have a safe and healthy environment is a very big part of satisfaction in life and in the future of children and themselves.
Reporter: What is your comment on the foreign policy of the Communist Party of Vietnam?
Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto: I think the really big picture is that Vietnam creates stability in Asia and in this region. Vietnam’s foreign policy creates peace and stability in the region, and it supports free trade in the region.
The Vietnam-EU Free Trade Agreement is now a new thing and we want to see it bring concrete results for our companies. We are very happy to see Vietnamese increasingly participating in UN peacekeeping operations. And, your ASEAN role was important.
I understand completely the Vietnamese constitution and I understand the role of the Party in society, and the central role of the Party in setting the major guidelines.
Reporter: Please share your view of the relationship between Vietnam and Finland? In your opinion, what are the highlights in Finland’s cooperation with Vietnam since the establishment of the bilateral relationship?
Ambassador Kari Kahiluoto: For Finland, we have a long term relationship with Vietnam, of nearly 50 years. We have a relationship with no problems and a lot of potential, but then, it’s very low intensity and the trade volume is not very high. But for us, and for all Nordic countries, we have a traditional long term relationship with Vietnam that has been changed from a development partnership to a more commercial, and in a way more equal, relationship.
Finland and Vietnam share a lot of things in international areas; we are dependent on multilateralism and we are supportive of multilateralism, so we have very strong trust in the United Nations and then also we are dependent on the services that the United Nations provides. So we both have a very strong multilateral commitment. And for you the main area is, of course the UN, but then ASEAN; for us it’s Nordic cooperation and European Union, but also very strongly, the UN.
We basically have state-to-state relations, between the Finnish Government and the Vietnamese Government. There used to be much more Party-to-Party, maybe also party-NGO relations to Finland earlier, in the 1970s, 1980s, and now it has decreased, not for any political reason but just out of natural development.
In the Finland - Vietnam relationship, from my viewpoint, I can pick 3 highlights.
The first is the great amount and potential of young Vietnamese people studying in Finland, about 2,500 at present, but over the years a big amount. And I think that is one clear highlight in the future of the Finland - Vietnam relationship.
Second is high tech in every form. We had IPP - Innovation Partnership Program. It was a development cooperation program that ended two years ago, but the essence remains. We see that it is high tech Finland cooperating with high tech Vietnam. So it is like the future of the two countries touching each other. Everything that we do in Vietnam in one way or another is high tech. It gives a modern impression of Finland, but then we are also interacting with the very modern part of Vietnam.
And the third is Hanoi water. Even after 30 years, or even more, from the 1980s, Finland had a huge development cooperation project in Hanoi to upgrade the drinking water supply of Hanoi after the war. It still remains a highlight of the relationship. The Hanoi water project which Finland conducted in Hanoi, surprisingly, is very well remembered in Finland.
So three highlights, I would say education, high tech and Hanoi water.
Reporter: Thank you very much for your time for us. I wish you good health, success and happiness in the New Year!