90 years of Finnish-American Diplomatic Relations

“About half of the University of Helsinki professors have at some point during their careers worked in American universities”

 Tarja Halonen, Derek Shearer and Michael Butler at the opening of the symposium

Finland is strongly committed to co-operating with the United States, both bilaterally and in the international arena. This was the core message of President Tarja Halonen’s keynote speech at the symposium celebrating 90 years of Finnish-American Diplomatic Relations. Held at the University of Helsinki, the symposium marked a date almost exactly 90 years ago, 7 May 1919, when the US Secretary of State Robert Lansing sent a telegram to the Finnish foreign minister Rudolf Holsti, announcing that the United States was recognising the independent Republic of Finland and its government.

President Halonen’s speech was followed by a greeting from the United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in which she also praised the warm relations between the two countries.

A former US Ambassador to Finland, Derek Shearer, Secretary of State Pertti Torstila from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Chargé d’Affaires Michael Butler from the US Embassy in Helsinki went on to reiterate the 90 years of common history – from the break-up during the Continuation War in the latter years of Word War II to the Spirit of Helsinki created through the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE).

The speakers noted particularly the period 1993–2001, when Bill Clinton was President, as the golden years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. It was during Clinton’s term in 1997, when Finland hosted the summit between Clinton and the Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in which they agreed on the Eastward expansion of NATO.

In addition to official relations, the symposium also emphasised the more unofficial relations, ranging from the first Finnish settlements in Delaware in the 17th century to today’s foreign trade. Chancellor Ilkka Niiniluoto, from the University of Helsinki, pointed out in his welcoming address the strong academic bridges that have been built across the Atlantic. “About half of the University of Helsinki professors have at some point during their careers worked in American universities,” Niiniluoto said.

The symposium was organised in co-operation between the University of Helsinki, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finlanf, the Embassy of the United States in Helsinki, and the Fulbright Center.


Text: Juha Merimaa
Photo: Saara Vuorjoki
In the picture Tarja Halonen, Derek Shearer and Michael Butler at the opening of the symposium.
13.5.2009
www.helsinki.fi/digitalcommunications


News of the month »»
News archive »»
University of Helsinki