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Foreign Office Consultations (FOC) between India and Finland Held

On 1 November 2023, New Delhi, Finland and India had their 12th Foreign Office Consultations (FOC). Shri Sanjay Verma, Secretary (West), Ministry of External Affairs, led the Indian delegation. H.E. Mr. Jukka Salovaara, Permanent State Secretary of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, led the Finnish side.

Finland and India maintain amicable and tight ties, with frequent political and formal contacts. The two nations have agreed to commemorate the 75th anniversary of their diplomatic relations by holding a proper celebration in 2024.

Bilateral ties, including political involvement, commerce and investments, education, digital partnerships, sustainability partnerships, mobility, cultural exchanges, and people-to-people interactions, were examined during the FOC. Multilateral collaboration, encompassing the Arctic and UNSC reform, was also deliberated.

The FOC offered a forum for discussion of matters of mutual interest, both local and global, such as the situation in Ukraine and developments around Finland and India. The next round of Foreign Office Consultations will take place in Helsinki at a time that works for all parties. Regular discussions are undertaken on bilateral, regional, and multilateral subjects of mutual concern. In 2021, the 11th FOC convened in Helsinki under the direction of the Secretary (West) and the Permanent Secretary of State of Finland.

Some of the important bilateral agreements signed between India and Finland include Arrangement for Cooperation in Nuclear and Radiation Safety Regulation, October 2014; Gainful Occupation for Family Members of a Diplomatic Mission or Consular Post on 1st August, 2016; MoU for cooperation in space launch and peaceful uses of outer space – January 2019; Joint Declaration of Intent between Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, India and Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland for Cooperation in Digitalization, November 2019; MOU for Cooperation in Defence Production, Procurement, R&D of Defence Equipment, January 2020; MoU on cooperation in Environment, November 2020.

The Finnish Ambassador to India, Kimmo Lahdevirta, had earlier stated that there has been a notable strengthening of the bilateral relationship between Finland and India over the years in a number of areas, such as trade, technology, culture, and education.

He remarked that people-to-people contacts are extremely significant and also talked about tourism. They have direct flights between Helsinki and India by Finnair, which facilitates these exchanges very much when describing the tourism ties between Finland and India.

He went on to say that he was optimistic about the two nations’ developing technological ties. He also said that looking ahead, they really see immense capabilities in the development of relationships, particularly in emerging technologies like 5G, 6G, artificial intelligence, energy solutions, biofuels, new green technologies, and other research and product development to combat those that are linked to sustainable development, which is of great significance.