(check against delivery)
On this, our first visit to Mexico, my spouse and I have had time to do little more than catch a glimpse of your great country’s impressive history and culture. But even on the basis of such a short visit, I can confirm that we have been charmed by your beautiful, lively and bustling capital, Mexico City. Our programme for today will continue with a cultural emphasis, before we turn our attention to trade opportunities tomorrow. We are experiencing Mexico through all five senses.
It goes without saying that this state visit is extremely important to both countries. Despite our geographical remoteness from one another, we have shared and joint objectives and values. We are united both by our desire to develop and succeed and our values, which are based on equality and justice. The ocean and almost 10,000 kilometres between us do not separate us in today’s global village. This is true even if the twelve-hour flight requires a little patience from travellers.
* * *
Mexico has an enormous amount to offer Finland – culturally, economically and in policy terms. In the cold north, we are all aware of Mexico’s cultural riches and white-hot dynamism. Mexico’s rich past and glorious indigenous culture are well known in Finland. Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera are household names. Of the current generation, I would like to mention film directors such as Alejandro González Iñárritu, Alfonso Cuarón and Guillermo del Toro who have brought the magic of Mexico to the silver screen and inspired film makers in Finland.
In cinema-loving Mexico, on the other hand, the Kaurismäki brothers – those unique cultural ambassadors of Finland and representatives of our quiet approach to life – are well known. In Finland, we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of our national composer, Jean Sibelius. In honour of the anniversary, we are organising a variety of concerts and events around the world, including here in Mexico. In addition, despite the fact that Finland is traditionally know as a land of design, last year we also introduced Mexicans to our modern art thanks to a highly regarded major exhibition at the Arte Alameda.
It is intriguing to contemplate what we might achieve through even closer cultural ties between our countries, by combining hot Mexico with cool Finland. Who knows! I can only say for sure that the result would leave no one cold.
* * *
Finland and Mexico have long engaged in close collaboration on foreign policy issues, particularly in UN forums. Finland supports the joint initiative by Mexico and France on limiting the veto of permanent members in extreme situations involving accusations of breaches of human rights and crimes against humanity. Like Mexico, Finland believes that the UN Security Council needs to be renewed in order to better meet the challenges of today. In Europe, we have the situation in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in breach of international law, while in the Middle East we have the terrorism of ISIS, to which we can add the global threats posed by climate change. All of these first-order crises require a joint response. We can resolve none of these issues ourselves.
We have been closely watching the economic path taken by Mexico. You have completed dramatic reforms in a very short period, which is a great achievement. Your root-and-branch energy reforms have enabled foreign investment in the sector. I am sure that this will enliven the energy sector and have a positive affect on economic growth throughout Mexico. Just as huge a leap forward has been taken in opening up the telecommunications sector to competition, generating major advantages for consumers. The third major reform lies in the education sector, which has also seen huge progress.
All of these reforms have raised the Finnish business world’s interest in Mexico. Finland can offer products and services in these sectors – energy, telecommunications and education. Trade between us is now at a good level, but there is still potential for more. A prime example of this lies in the export promotion visit made by Lenita Toivakka, the Minister of European Affairs and Foreign Trade, last March. Almost 40 business delegates participated in the visit, which has already had concrete results in the form of fresh trade negotiations and tenders. Finnish business delegates have also accompanied me on this visit, demonstrating their keen interest in the Mexican markets.
Relations between Mexico and Finland are excellent and in robust health – despite our geographical separation. Our contacts are based on mutual economic benefits, a common desire to maintain a stable and peaceful international order, and the shared experiences and wonders offered by our cultures. It would also be wonderful to see personal friendships formed during this visit.
On my own and my spouse’s behalf, I would like to give you my warm thanks for your splendid hospitality. I will now raise a toast in honour of You and your spouse and successful cooperation between Finland and Mexico!