The new director of the Petrozavodsk Office of the Consulate General of Finland in the Republic of Karelia, Johannes Puukki, visited Kajaani from 15 to 16 September 2020. Puukki took up his position at the Petrozavodsk office in February, just before the pandemic spread in Finland and in Russia. Spring 2020 has been surprising at the consulate and the tasks emphasized in a quite different way compared to the normal situation.
The visit program on Tuesday, September 15th began with a meeting and discussions on current matters and future prospects related to co-operation with Russia. Representatives of the Regional Council of Kainuu as well as of a few organizations cooperating with Russia and implementing Finnish-Russian projects in Kainuu, attended this meeting set up around the themes suggested by the consul in advance.
The event began with a speech by Regional Mayor Pentti Malinen, in which he summed up both the regional development trends of Kainuu and the international activities of the Regional Council, to give information for Puukki, for whom Kainuu is still a relatively unknown region in Finland. Then it was Puukki’s turn to tell about the situation and plans in Petrozavodsk and for the rest of the participant to give their presentations as a basis for discussions to follow.
Consul Puukki spoke about the general situation in Republic of Karelia and the work of the consulate from different perspectives. The consulate processes around 40,000 visa applications annually, this figure naturally been affected by the pandemic situation. In addition to and following the tasks caused by the corona crisis, topical issues this year have included e.g. arousing more interest towards Finland and the Finnish language.
The Finnish-Russian cooperation at the Regional Council of Kainuu was presented in more detail by Regional Development Manager Katja Sukuvaara, and the project staff presented their ongoing Kolarctic CBC projects on, both focusing on developing traffic:
– Barents Region Transport and Logistics (BRTL) project, project manager Jussi Huotari
– Northern Axis – Barents Link (NABL) project, project manager Tatiana Petrova
These presentations were followed by a discussion on the development of tourism, in particular international tourism, on the basis of two introductory speeches. Pekka Huttu-Hiltunen from the Runosong-Academy presented recent plans to develop an international cultural tourism route based on the singing tradition in the participating countries, and Tuomo Tahvanainen, Director of tourism sector at Kainuun Etu Ltd, spoke about the development of tourism in Kainuu. These interesting discussions will be continued and actions planned in cooperation with Consul Puukki.
Later, Puukki’s program also included a study visit to Valmet Automation Oy, as well as a meeting and co-operation discussions with representatives of Cities of Kajaani and Kuhmo, as well as a visit to Juminkeko in Kuhmo.