Minister and Mrs Lee, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Twenty years have already lapsed since the establishment of the diplomatic ties between our two countries. The Anniversary next year will be an opportune time to assess the results achieved during these years. I already feel that our relations have been developing well - many contacts and exchanges have been established and cooperation has spread to many fields. I share your wish that we should further deepen our cooperation and enter new fields for exploiting opportunities existing there.
While looking back I am proud to say that there existed even before - despite of geographical remoteness - special ties between our two countries. An outstanding example of this are Finnish professor and ambassador G. J. Ramstedt's achievements in linguistics especially in producing the first Korean grammar in English language in 1939.
Today we Finns, can nothing but admire your achievements in the economic and political field. Your country has gone through more than two decades of very high economic growth, which has made possible a remarkable increase in welfare and prosperity. The Republic of Korea is already occupying the position of eleventh largest trading nation in the world and the spirit of economic activity and enterprise is strongly pulsating everywhere in your society.I also take this opportunity to pay tribute to progress and success achieved in furthering democratization and social development. I am convinced that they serve to strengthen the overall development of your country. As a logical consequence to this development, I already look forward to welcoming your country to the OECD in the near future.
In the field of foreign policy your successful Nordpolitik - while serving your own interests - has greatly contributed to increased stability particularly in Northeast Asia, of which the latest token is the recent establishment of the diplomatic relations between your country and the People's Republic of China. Earlier the world community could already witness the two Koreas entering the United Nations.
We are happy to note that the basis has been laid for a favourable development on the Korean Peninsula as the Basic Agreement and the Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula were adopted last December. We find this development encouraging and look forward that it will contribute to relaxing tension and building confidence on the Peninsula. We hope that this process will finally - by the end of this decade as predicted by President Roh Tae-Woo - pave the way to Korean reunification, which is a long-cherished dream and a just goal of the Korean people.
In the past the Koreans have experienced great sufferings on the course of the recent history. We Finns cannot but sincerely pay tribute to your ability to skillfully and patiently navigate in the sometimes stormy waters of the world politics and history. As you know in her history Finland has also been confronted with outside threats and thus been forced to struggle for existence. I feel that these similar experiences also build bridges between our two nations and contribute to good understanding of each other.
There is a Korean saying that "to know a stream, one must wade through it; to know a man one must make friends with him". To further foster our friendship I am happy and honoured to be the first Finnish Foreign Minister to visit the Land of the Morning Calm and to learn to know this beautiful country and its friendly people.
Finally let met thank you, Your Excellency, on behalf of my wife and myself for the warm welcome and hospitality shown to me and my delegation during our stay here.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me now to propose a toast to the health and well-being of His Excellency the Foreign Minister and Mrs. Lee, to the prosperity of the Republic of Korea and her people and to the further development of relations between Finland and the Republic of Korea!