The Embassy of Finland in Namibia is facing changes. Mrs. Seija Kinni-Huttunen, who has been the Head of Mission for last five years, will be returning to Finland at the end of July. The new Chargé d'Affaires will start on the 1st of August.
Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen regards the last five years in the collaboration between Finland and Namibia as a great continuum to the long and warm relationship between the two countries. However it has also been a period of constructive changes.
The relationship between Finland and Namibia started already in the end of nineteenth century. Later Finland supported Namibia's independent struggle and immediately after the independence in 1990 Namibia became one of the major development cooperation partners of Finland.
In 2001 the Government of Finland made a decision in principle, whereby Namibia together with Egypt and Peru is classified as a transition country. Due to the decision Finland phased out the traditional bilateral development cooperation and begun to focus more on expanding and diversifying the relations. The decision was based on Finland desire is to channel the development assistance to the least developed countries in the world. It is in line with Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations.
The transition period in Namibia took place from 2004 to 2007 and according to Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen the process was a success. The bilateral development cooperation has now been phased out in sectors such as forestry, water, environment and health. Only one bilateral project, the Finnish Support for Namibia's Decentralisation Process, is still on-going. The period of last project has been extended to assure the success and sustainability of the initiative.
Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen accentuates, that although the bilateral development cooperation has phased out it does not mean that Finland has stopped supporting the development of Namibia. On the contrary, the support and the collaboration have taken new and more multifaceted forms. Among others, Finland supports Namibia's democratic development through the Local Cooperation Fund. Support is directed to strengthening of the civil society, human rights and fight against HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, the growth in trade-economic relations between the countries and the increasing number of Finnish tourists visiting Namibia are evidences of this vivid collaboration. Other important forms of collaboration include municipal cooperation, CIMO-higher education exchange programme, collaboration between institutions of higher learning, concessional credits and Finnish-Namibian NGO cooperation.
The Finnish - Namibian relationship has not only been warm at the civil society level, but also at political level. Namibian Prime Minister, Nahas Angula, made an official visit to Finland in June 2008 and the Minister of Safety and Security, Dr. Nickey Iyambo will be heading to Finland in early August. Two Finnish ministers are envisaged to visit Namibia during 2008; the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development, Mr. Paavo Väyrynen and the Minister of Finance, Mr. Jyrki Katainen.
Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen hopes that the fruitful collaboration between Finland and Namibia shall continue in the future and that new and even more diversified forms of cooperation are found. Especially she emphasizes the importance of strengthening the relationships in trade and economy. Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen also encourages Finnish companies to direct their investments more and more to Namibia.
As a Finn, Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen is delighted for having had the opportunity to work in Namibia. Namibians have been willing cooperation partners and Finns have introduced innovativeness and skills. The Embassy of Finland has been an inspiring working environment with highly motivated staff. Mrs Kinni-Huttunen thanks the Government of Namibia for always having been easily approachable and for having been a good and reliable partner for a person who is used to the fast Scandinavian working pace.
Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen and the family thank the Diplomatic Corps and the Finnish society in Namibia, who have enabled the interesting and immemorial five years in Namibia. In the future Mrs Kinni-Huttunen hopes to return to Namibia as a tourist to experience the many sights and sounds of country that she missed due to a tight diplomatic schedule. In Finland Mrs. Kinni-Huttunen will return to the service of Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Helsinki.