Today we celebrate the 65th Anniversary of the Signing of the Fulbright Agreement between our countries. During these years the Finnish-American Fulbright programme has contributed considerably to strengthening the ties between our countries and people. Finland and the United States maintain an excellent relationship.
The Fulbright Program has become a model of excellence for the world's most well-known global exchange network. It has provided over 5500 Finns and Americans the opportunity to serve as academic and cultural ambassadors and become leaders in their field. The alumni of Fulbright Finland are both numerous and impressive, including leaders such as the Nobel Laureate, Professor Bengt Holmström.
For a good reason, Fulbright has been called the best and most cost-effective public diplomacy program our two countries have ever had. I congratulate the Fulbright Finland Foundation for its significant achievements.
As an example, I want to recognize Fulbright Finland's role and contribution to the advancement of collaboration and research on the Arctic – an area of great importance to our countries. In May this year, the United States passed the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council to Finland. Our chairmanship theme is "Exploring Common Solutions". We want to highlight the need for constructive cooperation between all Arctic stakeholders, and to take Arctic cooperation to a new level.
Fulbright's role is significant as we work together with the United States and our other Arctic partners to increase collaboration towards common solutions for a sustainable Arctic future.
I want to give a very special welcome to the more than 40 American Fulbright scholars, students and professionals who have come to Finland during this year when Finland celebrates its 100 years anniversary. I want to warmly welcome you to Finland, and to celebrate this special year together with us!
Chargé d'Affaires Donna Welton announced that the United States has decided to make a gift to the people of Finland in recognition of Finland's Centennial. On behalf of Finland, I want to thank the United States and Chargé Welton for this gift dedicated for scholarly and professional exchanges through the Fulbright Finland Foundation. Fulbright is the cornerstone of Finnish-American academic and cultural collaboration and this gift will benefit the Finnish-American relationship into the future.
I am very pleased to come together this evening to celebrate Fulbright and the continued success of Finnish-American relations.