Each year the Embassy hosts a meeting for the Honorary Consuls of Finland where they hear about current developments in Finland and the Embassy and get a chance to meet their fellow honorary consuls. This year's meeting was held at the Ambassador's residence on Monday 17th March.
Finland has 26 honorary consulates around the UK. An honorary consul promotes economic and cultural relations between Finland and Britain and takes part in strengthening Finland’s image abroad. The tasks of the honorary consuls have changed slightly in recent years as they do not accept passport applications or handle matters pertaining to visas or residence permits anymore.
This year, the meeting was attended by 14 honorary consuls. Ambassador Pekka Huhtaniemi started the programme by welcoming all guests and introducing the honorary consuls. He addressed a warm thank you to all honorary consuls for the enjoyable visits he and his wife had had with them in the past year.
Ambassador Huhtaniemi discussed the current affairs in Finland and talked about Finland's economic situation and the upcoming European Parliament elections. Mr Juho Simpura gave an account of Finland's stance on the British debate regarding their membership of the EU.
Mr Pekka Isosomppi told the participants about his job in public diplomacy, which aims to make Finland interesting in the UK. Ms Tiina Nelin gave an update on Finnish consular affairs: the opening hours have been changed, and visa applicants must make an appointment beforehand. These changes have been welcomed by the public and the employees at the consulate.
In the afternoon, Team Finland members, Finnish Institute, Finpro and Finnish-British Chamber of Commerce introduced their recent developments and projects. These organizations promote Finland, Finnish companies and culture in their work.
There was also time for some discussion on current affairs in the UK. Honorary consuls told their colleagues about the developments in their area, such as the forthcoming referendum in Scotland.