SA, Finland declaration to deepen bilateral relations

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pretoria - Cooperation between South Africa and Finland has been intensified with the signing of a Declaration of Intent to deepen bilateral relations between the two countries.

Singed by Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Sue van der Merwe and Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Vayrynen on Monday, the declaration will see the strengthening of north-south partnerships.

"We think the Declaration of Intent will help us deal with the issue of development in Africa and provides a framework for cooperation based on five principles.

"These principles include ownership, alignment, harmonisation, management for results, and mutual accountability," Deputy Minister van der Merwe said.

The two countries agreed to further deepen their relations through the north-south partnerships they have.

In this regard, the Finnish minister had brought a delegation of about 20 representatives from different countries to look into new areas of partnership and investment in South Africa.

Minister Vayrynen said: "South Africa has a very special place in our development aid agency, and South Africa is the only country in the world that we have such a big agreement with in this [ICT] portfolio."

The Finnish minister added that they wished to take their cooperation further especially in the field of science and technology.

"This while supporting South Africans in developing a knowledge based society in these matters. The area of environment is also another part we wish to explore ... especially with our green technology innovations, we think we can give back to South Africa," Minister Vayrynen said.

The two counties have over the years fostered collaboration and exchange of expertise, with Finland providing technical assistance to South Africa - among other things, to help bridge the gap between research and development outputs and the commercialisation of products and services.

The project is run by South Africa's Science and Technology Department with assistance from the Embassy of Finland in Pretoria.

Finland has also in the past year, pledged ?12-million in development aid towards enhancing the delivery and implementation of Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure in South Africa.

South Africa enjoys excellent relations with all the Nordic countries including Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Flowing from the strong grassroots support in these countries for democratisation in South Africa, relations have been established in virtually every field at both public and official levels.