Finnish Community commemorates I-Day - GulfToday

Finnish Community commemorates I-Day


Finland Ambassador to the UAE Marianne Nissila and husband Rami Nissila welcome Ahmad Al Attar on Sunday evening. John Varughese/Gulf Today

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

The 1,118-strong Finnish Community in the UAE commemorated their 102nd Independence Day from Russia on Sunday evening in Abu Dhabi. Finland Ambassador to the UAE Marianne Nissila led in the celebration through a Diplomatic Reception at The St. Regis Hotel-Corniche which saw the participation of Primary Level pupils of the Finnish School in the capital render the UAE’s national anthem of “Ishy Bilady” (“Long Live My Country”) and Finland’s “Maamme” (“Our Land”).

Guest-of-honour was UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation-European Affairs deputy head Ahmad Al Attar.

Finland was part of Sweden from 1150 until the Feb. 21, 1808 to Sept. 17, 1809 Finnish War. The war consequently led to the annexation of the country to its eastern neighbour, Russia, to be known as the Grand Duchy of Russia. Finland gained independence from Russia when the Bolsheviks (founders were Vladimir Lenin and Alexander Bogdanov) overtook the empire in 1917 who acknowledged and recognized Finland as an independent state. However years before that, Empress Elizabeth of Russia already encouraged the Finnish people to form their own sovereign nation without Swedish and Russian interferences.

On Sunday evening and in her speech, Nissila said: “It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this reception to mark the 102nd anniversary of Finland’s independence. The main celebrations took place in Helsinki already on Friday (Dec. 6)—the real date Finland declared its independence—but I am very happy to celebrating with you tonight here in Abu Dhabi. “His Excellency, President of the Republic Sauli Niinisto in his speech commemorating 80 years of the beginning of the Winter War, highlighted the spirit of Winter War. This concept—in my view—touches the soul of my country: the sense of unity among the whole population to defend what is considered rightfully ours. Fortunately as President Niinisto pointed out—the spirit of the Winter War can be brought back also in times of peace. Today it means that while our citizens may have differences of opinion, they are unanimous about overcoming any problems facing Finland by joint decisions.” Since independence and through all their socio-economic struggles, partly due to their country being in one of the coldest zones of the globe, the Finnish were able to overcome, to become the Country with the Best Primary Education in the World (World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017).

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