Interview of Ambassador of Finland

Special interview for Kitabistan
article about 'Interview of Ambassador of Finland' and 'Special interview for Kitabistan'

This year, Azerbaijan and Finland celebrate the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations. On this occasion, on December 20, in the organization of Kitabistan, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Professor at Helsinki University, Prof Henrik Meinander's "The role of education in Finnish history" Talk event was held. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Finland to the South Caucasus, Mrs Kirsti Narinen attended the conference personally and gave an exclusive interview about the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the conference to Melek Hajiyeva, chairperson of the Board of Kitabistan. We present the interview:

- Dear Mrs ambassador, thank you very much for this interview. As we know, this year Azerbaijan and Finland are celebrating 30 years of diplomatic relations. How do you evaluate these 30 years and what are the future perspectives of this relationship?

- Thank you for this opportunity to start with. Yes, 30 years had been very multifaceted 30 years. Because usually also diplomatic relations with two countries that are not neighbouring countries are more regulated and somehow even dictated by the events happening outside these countries. And we have been communicating very well in various phases during these 30 years. There have been more intense phases and there have been less intense. But I think that looking at the future now when the geopolitical situation in Europe and in this region has dramatically changed we have great potential of first and foremost economic cooperation. But of course, Finland wants to contribute together with our EU team Europe spirit contributed to stability and peacebuilding in this region which is now more topical than it has been. Finland was a member of the Minsk Group, Finland has been a co-chair of the Minsk Group but I think that it is now time to look for new solutions.

- Thank you. Within the framework of the 30 years of diplomatic relation celebrations, Finnish Embassy to South Caucasus benevolently supported the translation and publication of the book “History of Finland” into the Azerbaijani language. And this book is written by Finnish professor Henrik Meinander. Your thought would be quite interesting about the author and the importance of this book.

- Well, Prof Meinander is a well-known historian in particular of the Finnish history in Finland and his book was published in Swedish long time ago and has been translated now into 18 languages. And the book is very well written and it is very good and let’s say sufficiently general for the reader, for the greater public to learn about Finnish history. Because we think that we can understand a country’s behaviour and state’s behaviour a lot better when we know something or at least something about the history. And I think that we all need to be more aware of what has happened before in order to understand what is happening today. And in Professor Meinander’s book and also his book presentation he talked very much about education and it is important to remember and underline what he also underlined that is that education is not a separate element of any society, that educational system is built on the cultural development of the state and the statehood. And also has to be seen as an element for building statehood which means that the root of the Finnish education system are actually already in the 16 and 17th centuries when the church was demanding reading and writing skills in accordance with the Lutheran faith to be able to marry. And this means that actually, the roots of the Finnish educational system go all the way hundreds of years. And that’s why it has been built as a part of our societal development rather than education as such. And this of course then when the church gave the mission to the state then the development of course changed and that was at the end of the 18th century. 

- In the Kitabistan Talks event you had a chance to personally meet with the Azerbaijani readers and youth. And you directly gave a speech about the importance of history, publishing and education. So, how do you evaluate the interest of the Azerbaijani youth to the Finnish education system? Because they gave lots of questions during the event.

- Well, yes, indeed. And I have also been talking about it with the Ministry of Education here in Baku earlier this year. And there seems to be great interest in taking parts of the Finnish education system that could benefit the development of the Azerbaijani system. Of course, copy-paste does not work in any system. So, I think it is very important that we communicate and we keep each other informed or keep the authorities. Not only here but also in other countries of the world there is the so-called Finnish education system is also an export item. And I am sure that there would be elements in that. That would also benefit the development of the Azerbaijani system. Of course, the history of education is different which means that as such the system is not applicable but I am sure that there are elements that can be used. Because the education system is forwarded, it has this desire to make the future better. And the education system is also the method of building the next generation to be able to develop and love their country.

- Dear ambassador thank you very much for this interview and Merry Christmas in advance.

- Thank you very much. I also wish all of you a good holiday and Happy New Year.