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28.2.2012 Vapaasti kaupasta

Kunniakonsulien kuulumiset

Finland enjoys a strong reputation

I have no Finnish blood. However, I should by now, have considerable amounts of Finnish pulp in it!

The story of my family with Finland started in the mid-thirties as my late father Emil Chaoui, Consul and later Consul general of Finland, started to sell Finnish Paper and Board in our region, an activity we still exercise today.

Ever since, Finland enjoys a strong reputation as the main supplier of Paper and Board to the Middle East, similarly to that of the Nokia country in the eighties.

Today, Finland’s reputation is one of neutrality, objectivity and fairness along many other criteria of prime importance for the Lebanese people.

Indeed, the relationship between Finland and Lebanon is different from that of many countries. It is based on the considerable input the Finnish Army brought in South Lebanon through its presence there as part of UNIFIL, and, the security it brought to the population in the South.

After more than twenty years of continuous presence in the UNIFIL, Finland ended its participation in 2000 but didn’t hesitate to return for a period of one year in 2006 to help rebuild the country’s infrastructure badly hit by the Israeli invasion.

I am also proud to mention that once again, 200 Finnish soldiers will come in May 2012 to South Lebanon as part of a joint battalion with Ireland. This contributes to a remarkable reputation for Finland in Lebanon. 

As the son of a Consul of Finland and having filled this responsibility for the last 23 years, I have enjoyed excellent relations with the Finnish officials and the Finnish business community. I feel privileged to hold this position which has become part of my family’s culture and traditions.

In the absence of a resident Ambassador, my duties are numerous. In addition to doing my best to secure an excellent image for Finland, I am committed to developing the commercial bilateral relations, as well as sponsoring cultural events.

Organizing meetings for official delegations, fixing appointments for the business community, helping Finns who might face difficulties, providing information on Finland to the Lebanese Community are part of my responsibilities.

With the help of the Finnish Embassy in Damascus, we try to create a cultural event every year; we received the Trio Voce for a concert in 2010 for the National Day, and the Finnish accordionist Heidi Luosujarvi,, in 2011.

A sauna offered by General Gustav Hägglund at my summerhouse, surprises happily all my visitors, be it Finns or Lebanese.