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I would like to warmly welcome you to this reception and concert. It is a great pleasure for me to be in Luanda! I would like to thank Finland’s Honorary Consul, Mr Manuel Goncalves and his team for the work they have done to make this visit successful.
The main purpose of my visit is to strengthen relations between Finland and Angola. Thus, I was honored to have the opportunity to meet with the President of Angola Mr João Lourenço, the Foreign Minister Mr Manuel Domingos Augusto, the Minister of telecommunication and ICT Mr José Carvalho da Rocha, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Ms Maria do Rosário Sambo, the Minister of Education Ms Maria Cândida Teixeira and with the Minister of Trade Mr Joffre Van-Dúnem.
There is definitely a great deal of interest in Angola to learn more about the Finnish Economic model and on how we manage our society so as to better care for our people and to counter the challenges we face.
My discussions here have been very fruitful and I trust that the visit will contribute to deeper cooperation between our two countries. I believe that we are able to open up possibilities for further interaction and expanding commercial relations between Finland and Angola. This will include a visit of a Finnish business delegation to Luanda.
I believe that exchanging information and lessons learned on a regular basis would be very useful for both countries. This is particularly important since, today commercial relations need to be based on long-term partnerships and cooperation at various levels of society. An important part of this cooperation are research institutes, universities and private companies.
A few words about Finland. As some of you might know – according to an UN survey – Finns are the happiest people in the world. Perhaps this is due to the fact that our country is large in terms of size but only has 5,3 million inhabitants. Nobody just around the corner to argue with!
We might be few in numbers, but we have many strengths. One of them is education. Access to education – to boys and girls – has been one of the key elements of our economic success. Finland’s corner stones for global economic policies are: open market economy, level playing field for businesses and focus on niche technologies.
Nowadays Finland is known for well-functioning infrastructure, information technology and investment in innovation and product development. Our firms will be happy to share their knowledge on energy, telecommunications, minerals and mining, education and health technology.
Africa is an important partner for the European Union. We are neighboring continents and we have common interests and common challenges. My key message has been that we need to focus more on Africa: Africa's geopolitical position and opportunities must finally be recognized. We must deepen our collaboration in multilateral fora, including in the UN. The EU-AU Summit in Cote D’Ivoire laid a concrete agenda to be follow-up.
The international rules-based system is of fundamental importance in addressing global challenges. Strengthening this system requires cooperation with partners in Africa. During Finland’s presidency of the EU – starting first of July – we will do our utmost to promote this agenda.
Trade is a key question for Africa’s development. It is important that African economies are diversified and integrated into the world economy. Regional economic integration is an important step to this direction.
I am pleased to see the progress Angola has made. In particular, I would like to congratulate all Angolans for the successful efforts made in sustainable economic development in this country. Angola has great economic potential and Finland is committed to continue its cooperation with Angola as an equal partner.
I hope this reception will provide an opportunity to exchange views on how to deepen our collaboration as well as to identify possibilities to develop relations between Finland and Angola in the years to come. May I propose a welcome toast for Finland – Angola friendship!