In the picture from right to left: Ambassador of Finland, H.E. Ms Päivi Kaukoranta and her husband Mr Jarmo Hopponen, Mr. Marko Kivelä, Defence Attaché (to Germany and Netherlands) and his wife Mrs Anu Kivelä.
On the occasion of the 102nd Independence Day of Finland, the Ambassador of Finland, H.E. Ms Päivi Kaukoranta and Mr Jarmo Hopponen hosted a special reception. Attending were numeous diplomats and head of missions, Dutch officials, many from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Senate and the parliament, artists, politicians, members of different organisations, the Finnish embassy staff, as well as many friends of Finland who came in big numbers to the official residence of Finland on a raining winter night.
Her Excellency thanked everyone in attendance for sharing this very special day with her, and introduced Karla-Maria Toiviainen and Susan Ball, who performed the Finnish national anthem and the European Anthem Wilhelmus.
“Some of you may be surprised to hear also the European anthem, which symbolizes not only the European Union, but also Europe in a wider sense.” , expressed the Ambassador Ms. Kaukoranta.
“The European anthem is not intended to replace any of the national anthems of the EU countries, but rather to celebrate the values they all share. This is also true with the membership of the Union; it does not take anything away, but rather adds to our independence. For Finland, the membership in the European Union was, after all, also a security policy choice.”
She continued by stating that “during this second half of 2019 Finland held the Presidency of the Council of European Union – for the third time since 1995, when Finland became a member of the European Union. The Finnish Presidency has also characterized the work of the Embassy, which was busy in organizing numerous EU-related events during the past half a year. This Presidency was marked with the institutional transition period in the Union – new European Parliament, as well as a brand-new Commission. For us Finns, it was also a new national parliament and government – and yet a new one, hopefully already next week.”
The Netherlands recognized Finland’s independence on 28 January 1918, amongst the first countries to do so. First recognition came naturally from the eastern neighbour, from Lenin’s Russia. The recognition was confirmed orally by the Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonkheer Loudon.
In order to further clarify that the recognition had indeed happened, an exchange of letters took place a year later, in June 1919. The date of the Dutch letter, 5 June 1919, is considered the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Thus, in the year 2019, The Netherlands and Finland celebrated 100 years of diplomatic relations.
“We are grateful for the good cooperation with Netherlands, and look forward to continue on this track. This good cooperation was also marked in the beginning of this week in the bilateral meeting of our Foreign Ministers – Haavisto and Blok”, expressed H.E. Ms. Kaukoranta.
“I would like to use this opportunity to thank the Embassy staff who have worked hard to make this reception to happen and all year long for many other events and every day work. I would also like to congratulate my deputy, Minister Counsellor Marianne Mäkinen, whom The President of the Republic decided to decorate with a Knight First Class of the Order of the Lion of Finland. Not least my thanks goes to Helga Mensing, our former Honorary Consul in Curacao, who was decorated earlier this year as Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland.
I would also like to thank all colleagues at the Minbuza, at the Dutch Government as a whole, the Parliament, other embassies, organizations, and all partners with whom we have worked hard during this year. It is wonderful to do this work with all of you.
Finally, I would like to pay tribute also one particular person whom I had invited to this event, but who sadly passed away a few weeks ago, and thus could not be with us today. I had the honour to open Onno de Bruyne’s exhibition titled “Greetings to Finland” last spring. I was fascinated by his paintings of birch woods, the national tree of Finland – if you wish to take a look, one his painting is in the library located on the right hand side of the entry hall.
Today, on December 6th, flags fly high in Finland. I have commenced our Independence Day celebration this morning by hoisting a brand-new Finnish flag in Finland100 Birch Park in Harlemmermeer in Vennep. I am delighted that so many of you have joined us tonight to continue our celebration and raise a glass for our 102-year-old country!
The crowd got into the warm spirit of friendship and generous hospitality offered by Ambassador Kaukoranda, her family and colleagues from the Embassy of Finland. The host really worked with dedication to welcome the guests with an outstanding, delicious and authentic Finish menu, music and enchanting atmosphere making the National Day of Finland an unforgettable event.
Photography by Catherine Dailey