Being appointed ambassador is always a great honour. In Tallinn, the work of an ambassador is especially challenging, as the spectrum of official duties here is exceptionally broad. Bilateral interest towards one another is great on the both sides of the Gulf of Finland and we communicate with each other on daily basis – just as close neighbours should.
I shall approach my work with a sense of calm knowing that my colleagues at the Embassy are experienced and skilled professionals. Also, my personal friendship with Estonia is a long-lasting one.
I visited Tallinn for the first time in winter 1986. Tallinn was beautiful and already then somehow dear to Finns. Sometime later, I had an opportunity to see at one glance the coasts of both countries – Estonia and Finland – from the cockpit of a plane flying above the Gulf of Finland. It was then that I realised how unnaturally we had been forced apart. In the early nineties, I had a chance to follow the liberation of the Baltic States from nearby, since at the time I was working at the Consulate General in Leningrad. It was captivating to see how freedom, justice and democracy triumphed. In 1993, I began working in our Embassy in Tallinn, as its deputy head of mission.
Over the past few decades, Estonia has changed immensely. The European Union and the euro have united us and brought us even closer together than before. The political leaders of Finland meet with their Estonian colleagues more often than with the representatives of any other country. People are moving freely, business is booming, and investments are being made in both directions over the sea.
The movement of people, goods and money can be used as indicators of transnational relations but for me the most important measurement is the daily communication of people themselves. Tens of thousands of Estonians and thousands of Finns live, study, or work in their close neighbouring country. This year, more than eight million trips will be made across the Gulf of Finland.
We experience the same economic ups and downs, and share social challenges. This is why we must also act in unison. Cross-border cooperation is already working well, and the Embassy is involved in its support and development. Our Consulate takes care of the citizen services, whose demand is constant.
The will to cooperate and work together is strong. Finland and Estonia are best friends, even if we do not always agree on everything. The dynamics of development are hidden within the differences in opinions between friends, and that is exactly why we need them.
It is wonderful to be in Tallinn again – it is so easy to return home.
In Tallinn, 2 October 2014