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History of diplomatic relations - Embassy of Finland, Tel Aviv : Embassy : History of diplomatic relations


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History of diplomatic relations

The good relations between Finland and Israel go back a long time. A solid foundation for bilateral relations was laid already before the proclamation of independence of the State of Israel in 1948. Finland's first de facto recognition of Israel was made by the president, J K Paasikivi, as early as 11 June 1948, just one month after Israel's declaration of independence. Finland officially recognized the State of Israel on 18 March 1949 and diplomatic relations between the two states were established on 14 November 1950. Finland opened its embassy in Tel Aviv soon afterwards in 1952. Israel opened its embassy in Helsinki in 1956.

The first Finnish diplomatic representative in Israel was Toivo Kala, who was given the responsibilities of Chargé d'Affairs by the Finnish president. Mr Kala presented his letter of accreditation to Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett, who told Mr Kala that he admired Finland's readiness to defend its rights and its rebuilding work after the war. When leaving Mr Sharett's reception Mr Kala heard the Chief of Protocol Mr Simon tell the foreign minister contentedly: "Now there are a total of 25 countries already represented in Israel".

Today, the relations between Finland and Israel cover practically all walks of life, from diplomacy and trade to cultural and scientific co-operation and tourism. Finland’s membership of the European Union (since 1995) has added an important dimension to the Finnish-Israeli relations. In addition to official contacts, numerous non-governmental organisations and individuals play a role in enhancing ties between Finns and Israelis. Annually, some 10,000 Finns visit Israel, with Jerusalem being the favourite destination (some 5,000 Israelis travel to Finland each year).

Finland's ambassadors to Israel

Toivo Ilmari Kala 1952 - 1958
Joel Toivola 1958 - 1961
Risto Solanko 1961 - 1964
Hans Ruben Martola 1964 - 1966
Algar von Heiroth 1966 - 1975
Matti Kahiluoto 1975 - 1981
Paaso Helminen 1981 - 1982
Erkki Mäentakanen 1982 - 1984
Taneli Kekkonen 1984 - 1985
Osmo Väinölä 1985 - 1989
Pekka J. Korvenheimo 1989 - 1993
Arto Tanner 1993 - 1997
Pasi Patokallio 1998 - 2003
Kari Veijalainen 2003 - 2007
Per-Mikael Engberg 2007 - 2011
Leena-Kaisa Mikkola 2011- 2016                                                                                        Anu Saarela 2016-2018

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Updated 2/13/2019

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