Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are gathered here today to bid farewell to you, Mr. Ambassador, as you are about to leave Helsinki after a term of three and a half years. The period you have spent in Helsinki as the Representative of Belgium can only be characterised as an active one. I recall particularly the succesfull visit to Finland of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Leo Tindemans at the end of 1988.
The relations between Belgium and Finland are traditionally good. The absence of problems between our countries does not, of course, mean lack of interest in each other. Finland and Belgium are both small European nations, who had to struggle for their independence and who achieved it relatively late. Both are bilingual countries, both share a devotion to the principles of freedom, democracy and human rights.
Mr. Amba ssador,
The diplomacy has rarely lived such an intresting time as we are living now. Only some time ago nobody could have imagined the speed of development in the democratization process in Eastern Europe nor the talks on the unification of Germany. And yet, the future is still as unpredictable as a year ago.
In a situation we have in Europe at the moment, new, fresh ideas and new thinking are needed. This is where the small nations are also able to show their strength. The CSCE process offers an excellent forum for introducing ideas and for discussing them profoundly, as could be witnessed in the Bonn conference earlier this month. In this respect the the CSCE summit meeting later this year will play a crucial role.
To many Finnish businessmen Brussels is becoming the Capital of the integrating Europe. The growing Finnish industrial presence in Belgium shows that our business community is conscious both of the challenges posed by 1992 and the advantages offered by your country to Finnish investors.
Brussels is also the seat for the European Community. A joint EFTA-EC ministerial meeting in Brussels in December made the important decision of commencing negotiations for an European Economic Space. The timetable for the negotiations is ambitious and there are still some open institutional questions, but we are confident the result will be benefitial to all parties.
You are now in the eve of your departure from Finland, leaving quite a number of friends behind.
On behalf of my Government, I would like to express our sincere appreciation for your personal contribution to the Finnish-Belgian relations during these three and a half years you have stayed in Finland.
We wish you all the very best in the future years.
I have understood that you will settle down in Brussels. I am very glad for that - because that means that we are going to have one more friend in Brussels - and that is exactly what we are going to need.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me propose a toast to Ambassador Janssens as well as to Finnish-Belgian relations.