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It is a particular pleasure for me and the First Lady to welcome once more Your Excellency and Madam Pohamba and the esteemed delegation from Namibia. We are delighted to host you in Finland. We sincerely hope that you feel at home despite the late autumn weather. As you have witnessed, it is quite the opposite of the ample sun shine and warm summer weather in Namibia right now.
Finland and Namibia are indeed situated at almost the opposite ends of the world. Nevertheless, we share an exceptional history that dates back to over 140 years. Our friendship goes back to the times of Martti Rautanen, a well-known Finnish missionary, whose homestead hosts the Nakambale Museum. Since those days, the ties between our two nations have evolved in many ways, from grass roots to the highest political level. This visit celebrates and further strengthens our unique partnership.
Africa is a rising continent and some African countries are among the fastest growing economies in the world. Your country, Namibia, has been blessed with natural resources and a competitive location, among other assets. This creates excellent potential and possibilities for economic growth, which in turn fosters the wealth and welfare of the Namibian nation.
In Finland, investment in free education and equal opportunities for all, has paved the way to a knowledge-based society. This has created a strong foundation for economic development and well-being of people. I firmly believe that well-functioning institutions, rule of law and democracy have provided a strong basis for prosperity and sustainable development.
A constantly changing world presents challenges but also creates opportunities for all of us. Both of our countries have had to adapt to these changes and try to make the most out of them. I also believe that cooperation between countries contributes to sustainability and success.
As I already mentioned, Finland and Namibia have a long history of cooperation in various sectors, such as water and sanitation, forestry and more recently energy sector, education, social welfare and health. However, I am convinced that there is always room for improvement. Trade and investments offer great potential and Finnish companies have a strong interest to explore African markets.
Your Excellency, this visit offers you an opportunity to take a closer look at Finnish society and explore the potential for business, trade and investments. You will also meet old friends and hopefully make new ones. During your stay, you will surely notice that we even share the same first names! That shows how close we truly are. But I am confident that this visit will also provide new building blocks, ideas and initiatives for future partnerships.
Twenty years have passed since the first State Visit took place from independent Namibia to Finland. Let’s not wait quite that long to meet again! With these words, Your Excellency, I would like to propose a toast in your honor, and to the close and warm relations between our two countries!