Finland prioritizes Vietnam as an important partner in region: Finnish Ambassador

WVR - After Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Jussi Halla-aho's official visit to Vietnam, Finnish Ambassador Keijo Norvanto shared with the World & Vietnam Report about the highlights of the visit and the potentials of the cooperations.
Finland Ambassador

Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Jussi Halla-aho and National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue and the delegations of the two sides. (Photo: VNA)

What are your comments on the significance of the visit to Vietnam-Finland relations in general and parliamentary cooperation in particular?

Finland and Vietnam celebrated the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year, so we have a long-standing partnership. Recently our collaboration has transitioned from development cooperation to a win-win partnership based on trade and economic cooperation.

Our key sectors remain the same: forestry, water, energy, waste management, food, education, vocational training, start-ups, and much more. In 2022, Vietnam became our most important trade partner in Southeast Asia.

Finland Ambassador

The Ambassador of Finland to Vietnam Keijo Norvanto. (Photo: The Embassy)

The previous visit of the Speaker of the Parliament of Finland took place 14 years ago. Chairman of the National Assembly of Vietnam Vuong Dinh Hue visited Finland in 2021. He cordially invited the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament to visit Vietnam. In addition, representatives of the Vietnamese National Assembly participated in the first World Summit of Committees for the Future, held in Finland 2 years ago. In return, Finland joined the Ninth Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians held in Hanoi last year.

The visit has helped strengthen the parliamentary cooperation in particular and the bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Once again, it re-emphasizes that Finland prioritizes Vietnam as an important partner in the region.

Could you please share with us the highlights of the visits?

The Speaker of the Parliament of Finland was welcomed by Chairamn of the National Assembly of Vietnam Vuong Dinh Hue, the two leaders had bilateral talks about current political relations, parliamentary cooperation, trade and economic cooperation including EVFTA and EVIPA, as well as cooperation in education, science technology, forestry & water sectors. In the meeting with the National Assembly Chairman, the straightforward and fruitful discussion also touched upon other topics:

Public Sector Investment Facility (PIF) which is one of Finland's development policy instruments for funding investments in developing countries. The Speaker from the Finnish Parliament hopes that the legislation bodies of Vietnam will help solve the existing bottlenecks, so Vietnam and Finland can both benefit from this very competitive instrument, allowing technology transfer from Finland.

Different forms of Rule of Law cooperation were discussed between the top legislators.

The two sides pledged to strengthen cooperation through parliamentary diplomacy channels; enhancing the exchange of high-level leadership delegations and specialized committees of the National Assembly, increase the exchange of parliamentarians, including the Vietnam-Finland Parliamentary Group, in connection with ASEAN parliamentarians, female parliamentarians, and young parliamentarians; exchanging experiences in parliamentary organization and activities to continue to innovate and improve the operational efficiency of the National Assembly and its supporting agencies.

He also had a courtesy call on the Prime Minister of Vietnam Pham Minh Chinh. In the meeting with the Prime Minister of Vietnam, the Speaker re-emphasized that Finland and Vietnam are peace-loving countries and share a history of fighting for independence and sovereignty.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Chinh shared about the “bamboo diplomacy” as well as Vietnam's "4 No's" defense foreign policy.

The Speaker also had a courtesy call on the Politburo member, Standing member of the Secretariat, Chairwoman of the Organization Commission of the Communist Party of Vietnam's Central Committee Truong Thi Mai. The Chairwoman of the Organization Commission of the Communist Party shared her impression during her visit to Finland in 2023 in which she had a meeting with Speaker Jussi Halla-aho. She is delighted to welcome the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament in Vietnam.

Finland Ambassador
Speaker of the Parliament of Finland Jussi Halla-aho visited the Thang Long-Bac Ninh Waste to Energy (WtE) Plant. (Photo: VNA)

On the second day of the visit, the Speaker visited the Thang Long-Bac Ninh Waste to Energy (WtE) Plant at Dong Sai Village, Phu Lang Commune, Bac Ninh Province and witnessed the recognition ceremony for the completion of construction. The project utilized state-of-the-art Finnish technologies in waste treatment from BMH Technology and a WtE boiler fired with refuse-derived fuel (RDF) from Valmet.

In the afternoon, he paid a visit to Fun Academy – Tan Thoi Dai (TTD) School at Geleximco Le Trong Tan, Ha Dong, Hanoi. There he observed a normal day at the school and listened to the presentation of the early childhood and K-12 education model of Fun Academy – TTD School as well as their prospects and plans. The model integrated different Finnish contents, programs, pedagogical methods and approaches in the Vietnamese context and curriculum.

The Speaker also paid respect to the great leader of Vietnam by laying a flower wreath at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. He enjoyed different cultural programs and activities during his visit to Hanoi.

What are your comments on the potential for cooperation between the two countries in areas such as digital economy, green economy, and combating climate change?

Vietnam and Finland hold great potential in cooperation. The two countries have different strengths that complement each other.

As the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament mentioned, forestry is one of the important sectors because both countries are heavily forested, and forestry is an important part of the economy. Moving toward smart forestry and bio-economy is also important for both countries’ NetZero commitment.

Finland is known for its clean water and sustainable waste management. Taking off from the well-known Finnish Water program, Finland and Vietnam can further the collaboration in water and sanitation technology, which are crucially important for Vietnam’s sustainable development.

Talent attraction is a priority of the Finnish Government. Vietnam is one of the four prioritized countries for The Talent Boost program which aims to attract and retain talents in Finland.

Digital transformation is receiving great attention from the Vietnamese Government. Drawn from the case of Finland and other countries, digital transformation also helps foster economic development and incubate start-ups.

Energy is the backbone of the economy. However, in the current situation of climate change, Vietnam must take action to transition from fossil fuel-based energy to green sources. The Thang Long-Bac Ninh waste-to-energy power plant, which utilized Finnish technologies, is an example of this green transition. Wärtsila is also looking to transform a dated coal power plant in Ninh Binh province into a power plant using internal combustion engines (ICE) which supports the stabilization of green energy sources.

What are your assessments of Vietnam's efforts in solving global problems such as combating climate change or calling for peace and respecting for international law and multilateral institutions?

I believe that Vietnam has the means and the determination to achieve the net zero goals it has set because it is open to collaboration and partnerships. No country can tackle the global challenges alone. But it’s not enough, the whole society needs to be involved, the private sector and civil society organizations.

As a forerunner in sustainable development, Finland wishes to continue supporting Vietnam, sharing experience, technological solutions, and expertise with Vietnam.

Vietnam and Finland share similar history and we are both peace-loving countries. In the coming time, I hope that Vietnam can consolidate its active role in the international forum on global issues, as it has a lot to share on reconciliation and peace.

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