For us at the Finnish Embassy in London, this passing year has been filled with work, but also memorable in many ways. The highlight of the year was the centenary of the Finnish independence, which manifested itself in celebrations all over Britain, organised by numerous different organisations and individuals.
On behalf of our entire team, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all of the event organisers, the guests who attended the celebrations, our Honorary Consuls, the Team Finland network and all of our partners and collaborators both in Finland and Britain. We made this year happen literally together, according to the Finland 100 theme. Concurrently, we have raised Finland’s profile together.
The year 2017 will be unforgettable not only due to the celebrations, but also on the account of many other important matters. Following up the historically significant Brexit process and analysing its implications and impacts on domestic policies have increased the workload of the Embassy. These matters will keep us very busy in the future too. We are actively following the impacts of the process on the position of the Finnish citizens in Britain and we do our best to share topical and updated information on our website and social media channels.
For Finland it is highly important that Britain will be our close partner in the future too, not only in trade but also in foreign, security and defence policy. Strengthening this broad-based partnership will be more important than ever after the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
In November, The Duke of Cambridge Prince William visited Finland and conveyed the anniversary message from Her Majesty the Queen to the President of Finland, Sauli Niinistö. During the Duke’s visit to Finland, he was introduced to Finnish education system, the world’s leading startup and tech event Slush and Icehearts model, which is based on preventive child welfare work. The visit was a great success.
Over the past year, we worked closely together with our Team Finland partners Finpro, Finnish-British Chamber of Commerce, The Finnish Institute in London and our network of honorary consuls in order to support Finnish companies in the British market and attract investments to Finland. We organised dozens of events where Finnish companies could introduce themselves and build up networks with relevant British partners. We informed Finnish companies and experts about the situation in Britain and introduced British journalists to Finland and Finnish expertise by organising several media trips to Finland.
This year Finland and other Nordic countries were very visible in Britain’s cultural life too. There has been many magnificent concerts around Britain throughout the year, many of them to honour the centenary of Finnish independence. The year-long Nordic Matters -festival at the Southbank was very popular, with Moomins taking over an exhibition space for over half a year and an authentic Finnish sauna arriving on the rooftop of Southbank Centre this autumn. Tove Jansson’s work and life was also exhibited in Dulwich Picture Gallery in London and at The Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal. A conference by the Anglo-Finnish Society and Finnish-British Chamber of Commerce on Finnish-British trade links over the past hundred years was also a huge success.
Next year will bring a centennial too: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland will have its 100th anniversary. However, before that, I would like to wish all our friends and partners happy holiday season and a successful new year!