“Despite their geographical separation, Uruguay and Finland are in a very similar situation and highly alike in many respects. We share the same values: human rights under democracy, and equality. They are important to us,” said President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö after meeting Tabaré Vázquez, the President of Uruguay, on 13 February 2017 in Helsinki.
The presidents discussed political and economic relations between Finland and Uruguay, and opportunities for cooperation. Topical issues related to the EU and Latin America, matters concerning the UN, the international security situation and the global economic outlook were also discussed.
At a press conference held after the meeting, President Vázquez congratulated Finland on its centenary year and stated that relations between the countries were excellent. President Niinistö commented that the strong cooperation between the countries could also be seen in the UN: “We have been in agreement and championed good causes there. It is wonderful that Uruguay is now a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. We congratulate you on your selection and are confident that you will do a good job,” President Niinistö said.
President Niinistö also mentioned that the countries face very similar challenges. Relations with the US are important to both. “The rise of protectionist ideas is of particular concern. We are in a similar situation here, in our own backyard. The EU has encountered numerous difficulties: Brexit, the situation following the financial crisis and perhaps the dissatisfaction with the Union being seen in many countries. Correspondingly, the Mercosur bloc has been experiencing difficulties in South America,” continued President Niinistö.
Both presidents stressed the close economic ties between their countries. During the visit, a treaty on customs cooperation was signed between Finland and Uruguay which, President Niinistö pointed out, was a sign of intensifying cooperation.
The subject of UPM’s possible new pulp mill investment in Uruguay was raised at the press conference. President Niinistö said that this possible investment is a good example of how well bilateral economic relations are working.
“In days like these we are living now, worldwide, it is hugely important that small nations, which have experience of living in demanding circumstances with big neighbours, that we stick together and emphasise the importance of the international order, such as role of the UN and all the legal agreements we have done. With respect to the pulp industry, I understand that the investment will benefit both Uruguay and Finland. I am quite sure that the discussions will continue,” said President Niinistö.
According to President Vázquez, the negotiations are at an early stage but the Uruguayan government is most interested in proceeding with the project. “We are working intensive towards finding solutions to those issues that have to be solved. We have high hopes that this investment will become reality in our country,” said President Vázquez.
President Vázquez also met Maria Lohela, the Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, and Prime Minister Juha Sipilä. He also visited UPM’s head office. In addition, President Vázquez was the main speaker in a seminar held in Biomedicum on the prevention of smoking and at a Uruguay-Finland business forum – intended to increase business cooperation between the two countries – in the House of the Estates.
President Vázquez was accompanied on his visit to Finland by Minister of Foreign Affairs Rodolfo Nin Novoa, Minister of Economics and Finance Danilo Astori, Minister of Transportation and Public Works Victor Rossi, Minister of Industries, Energy and Mining Carolina Cosse, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries Tabaré Aguerre and Minister of Housing, Territorial Planning and the Environment Eneida de León. He also brought a business delegation to Finland.