The Finish Foreign Minister Timo Soini on Tuesday opened the Embassy of Finland in Myanmar after more than 60 years of diplomatic ties between the two countries. The ceremony took place in the Lotte Hotel and combined the opening with the celebration of Finland's 100 years of independence.
The day before he had a "very productive meeting" with State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Timo Soini said during its opening speech. He listened to "her assessment of the situation in Myanmar" and conveyed "our most important messages". He said, for Finland the situation in Rakhine is important,"We call for full respect of human rights, an independent investigation into human rights abuses and a safe return for refugees to their homes."
Relating to the celebration of Finland's 100 years of independence from Russia, Timo Soini spoke about the bloody civil war his country faced in the first month of its autonomy. Among others, three principles carried Finland to prosperity and stability,” Respect for the rule of law, access to education for every girl and every boy and belief in the equality of women and men."
Under the embassy in Bangkok, Finland opened in 2014 a diplomatic mission in Yangon. The upgrade to a full embassy in Myanmar is "a historic milestone", Timo Soini said. Finland's aim is among others to strengthen Myanmar's peace process and democratic governance, to support forest governance and education. He also explained, "Special emphasis is placed on the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups and the reduction of inequality paying specific attention to equality between women and men."
Furthermore, Timo Soini is looking forward to "more high-level exchanges and business cooperation initiatives". The foreign minister clarified, "today Myanmar is a priority country for Finish development and trade cooperation". He said the interest of Finish companies in Myanmar has grown. "New opportunities for cooperation through Finish private sector actors and new public-sector investment facilities."
As a representative of Myanmar's government, the minister of transport and communication Thant Zin Maung attended the opening ceremony. In his speech, he said, that the amount of trade volume between the two countries is "not that high", but he believes in "the potential cooperation in trade and business and investment sectors."
The first resident Finish ambassador in Myanmar is Riikka Laatu. Finland's' embassy is located in the Nordic House-building in Yangon, where already Denmark, Norway and Sweden have their missions.