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Finland

Last updated in March 2017

Political relations

Close historical, cultural and economic ties have existed between Germany and Finland since the Hanseatic era and the Reformation.

After the Second World War, the traditionally good relations between Finland and Germany were soon restored, to begin with mainly in the economic and cultural spheres. Official bilateral relations were resumed in 1953 with the setting up of trade missions in Cologne and Helsinki. Diplomatic relations between the Republic of Finland and the Federal Republic of Germany were established on 7 January 1973.

Finland is celebrating the centenary of its independence in 2017. Germany will be actively involved in various events which are part of the celebrations throughout the year.

The quality of German‑Finnish relations is also reflected in the numerous consultations on a wide range of issues and the good personal contacts at the political level. Federal President Joachim Gauck paid an official visit to Finland in July 2013, during which he visited Savonlinna, Naantali and Turku accompanied by Finnish President Sauli Niinistö. On his most recent visit to Germany in October 2014, President Niinistö attended the Frankfurt Book Fair, at which Finland was Guest of Honour. In February 2015, 2016 and 2017, President Niinistö attended the Munich Security Conference. Finnish Prime Minister Sipilä travelled to Berlin in September 2015, as did Foreign Minister Soini in October 2015 and November 2016. In August 2016, Prime Minister Sipilä met with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and his Swedish, Danish and Dutch counterparts in Meseberg.

Close contacts also exist between the two countries’ federal and Land parliaments. The German‑Nordic Parliamentary Friendship Group in the German Bundestag has maintained long‑standing ties with the Finnish‑German Group of Parliamentarians in the Finnish Parliament. German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert visited Finland in July 2014 at the invitation of Finnish Parliament Speaker Eero Heinäluoma. There is also intensive exchange between the two parliaments’ committees. For example, the Finnish Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee travelled to Berlin in February 2017.

Economic relations

Germany is currently Finland’s principal trading partner, with imports from Germany amounting to 8.2 billion euros and exports to Germany worth 7.5 billion euros in 2015. The same year, Finland recorded a balance of payments deficit of 427 million euros in trade with Germany. More than 80 percent of imports reach Finland by sea, the German seaports of Hamburg, Rostock and Lübeck playing a key role.

Germany is one of the main destinations for Finnish investment. Around 280 Finnish businesses have invested in Germany, mainly companies in the paper industry (Stora Enso, UPM‑Kymmene Oyj and Metsäliitto) that are already well established in Germany. The activities of German companies in Finland have increased in recent years. Some 300 German companies currently operate in Finland, including many well‑established companies.

A German‑Finnish Chamber of Commerce was set up in 1978 and now has around 700 Finnish and German member companies.

 

Cultural relations

The influence of the centuries‑old traditions of Finnish‑German relations still makes itself felt especially in academic life, culture and jurisprudence. However, since around 1960 German has ceded its status as the principal foreign language to English.

Besides fostering the German language, a key concern of German cultural policy in Finland is promoting Germany as a place to study.

Well received is the support provided in this area by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which has lectors working in Helsinki and Turku, the Educational Exchange Service (PAD), which has a German language consultant there, as well as the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and other cultural intermediaries.

The Helsinki‑based Goethe‑Institut in Finland makes a significant contribution to lively cultural exchange. Other major pillars of cultural relations are the German School and the German Library in Helsinki and the German Lutheran community in Finland, all of which were established back in the second half of the 19th century.

In the non‑governmental sector, there are many players active in cultural exchange. In addition to numerous visits and personal contacts between artists, scientists and academics from the two countries, a wide range of cultural exchange programmes are conducted by the more than 30 Finnish‑German cultural associations in Finland as well as by the more than 70 local chapters of the German‑Finnish Society – one of the largest bilateral societies of its kind in Germany – and the Berlin‑based Finnish Institute in Germany. Activities are also carried out as part of the more than 70 town and municipality twinning arrangements, including exchanges for secondary school students and young people. Germany remains a popular study destination for Finnish students.

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