Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India, is paying a state visit to Finland on 14–16 October 2014. President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö has held talks with President Mukherjee on the development of relations between Finland and India, trade, investments, research and development cooperation, and current international issues.
”During our discussion, President Mukherjee proposed that we double trade volumes between our two nations over the next three years. That is extremely welcome and we will do our best to achieve this goal,” President Niinistö said after the talks on 15 October.
The volume of trade between Finland and India has been growing in recent years, reaching around one billion euros last year. However, the potential remains for increasing the amount of direct investment. The Indian market offers Finnish companies a range of business opportunities in sectors such as infrastructure construction, energy production, forestry, ICT, environmental and food technology, health care and education. There is particular demand for Finnish cleantech expertise in India.
No fewer than 16 agreements have been signed between the countries during the visit, including a cooperation agreement between Finnish universities and Indian institutes of technology, and an agreement on the use of renewable energy sources.
President Mukherjee also expressed his interest in the development of the Arctic region. India joined the Arctic Council as an observer last year. The presidents were in agreement that natural values and sustainability need to be taken into account in the exploitation of the region.
International issues discussed by the presidents included the situation in Ukraine, the troubles in the Middle East, the stabilisation of Afghanistan and the prevention of terrorism. Cooperation between BRICS states and the renovation of the UN system were also mentioned. President Niinistö confirmed that Finland supports India’s permanent membership of the UN Security Council, while stating that the right of veto should be curtailed in order to enhance decision-making.
After the reception ceremony and official talks, the presidents enjoyed lunch offered by the City of Helsinki. President Mukherjee will also meet with Prime Minister Alexander Stubb and Indians residing in Finland. The day ended with a state dinner hosted by the President and his spouse at the House of the Estates.
Visit to Rovaniemi
On Thursday 16 October, President Mukherjee will visit Parliament, with Speaker Eero Heinäluoma as his host. He will also lay a wreath at Hietaniemi Cemetery and attend a corporate meeting.
From Helsinki, President Mukherjee will travel to Rovaniemi, where he will visit the Arctic Centre and the Santa Claus Village.
President Mukherjee is accompanied by his daughter, dancer Sharmistha Mukherjee, who visited the Ateneum art museum with Jenni Haukio, the spouse of the President of the Republic. She was also introduced to Finnish design and paid a visit to the National Opera where she followed ballet rehearsals.
The President’s entourage includes a business delegation of approximately 30 corporate representatives.
The President of India’s previous state visit to Finland occurred in 1988. The last president of Finland to visit India was President Ahtisaari in 1996.