At a time when the European economy struggles with recession, the Asian market has kept its considerable growth. Comparing the different pictures, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto believes it is time for Europe to look eastward.
"We should take lessons from developing countries where people work hard and see in their way a target where they have to go," said Niinisto on Tuesday, four days before his trip to Hainan, China, to attend the 2013 Boao Forum for Asia.
"We have learned that Asian countries are going forward and we should be able to ask ourselves why we are stagnant in the way. And I think that it is just the target thinking and understanding that you just cannot leave things as they are and trust on your former good performance."
Niinisto admitted that the target thinking is rare in developed western countries, where people enjoy high level of welfare, "get satisfied and do not have a new target, which nevertheless is the basic element for future."
At his residence in Helsinki, Niinisto said the Boao Forum would be a good opportunity to hear from Asian leaders and make European voice heard.
"I hope to learn more. I hope to have possibility of giving European opinion on that meeting," he told Xinhua reporters.
The Boao Forum for Asia, a non-governmental annual convention in place for a decade, has attracted high ranking officials, business leaders, prominent scholars from the Asia-Pacific area and the rest of the world.
However, Niinisto will be the only head of state from the European Union (EU) attending the forum over the weekend. He will attend a special session on European economy.
The president's speech at the forum will focus on the problems Europe is facing, the reasons behind them, and the lessons learned. "I think that one of the most important lessons is that we cannot just ride with our former good performance."
Another message Niinisto is going to deliver in Boao is his opinion that European and Asian economies are in the same boat. "Surely I will emphasize the importance of the cooperating and understanding the fact that we really globally are in the same boat."
"Europe is still a very important market also for Asian countries. And I see that there is plenty to do in cooperating between Asian countries and the European Union economically," said Niinisto, underlying that China has taken part in efforts to help recover the European economy.
Finland survives the ongoing crisis partly due to open mind towards eastern world.
Since elected the president of Finland early last year, Niinisto has been active calling for repositioning the Nordic country to adapt to the dynamic world changes.
"Somehow we in the western world have seen us as overwhelming in economy and maybe otherwise too, and now it's a kind of wake up and we have to understand that there is approximately one billion people living in the western world but there are 6 billion people elsewhere too. We have noticed how rapidly the growth is taking place in other places than in the Western world."
Facing a new world order, Finland has to be open for that, said the president.
Unlike some major European countries, Finland has shown a more open and solution-oriented attitude towards Asian countries, both economically and politically.
"We are not that concentrated to other European Union countries than they on average are, for example in trading, and that has saved us also from the ongoing crisis. We are doing better than countries in EU on average, thanks also to our relations to China, Russia, and so on."
Advocating European cooperation with Asia, Niinisto also saw the importance of cultural tolerance. "We should learn a bit more about different cultures, or Asian cultures, so as to better understand each others," he said.
Talking about the culture-based differences between European countries in their diplomatic approaches, Niinisto attributed Finnish pragmatism to the nation's natural uniqueness. "I guess it's the harsh circumstances we have been living for centuries here sometimes in dark and cold, that has made people quiet and pragmatic to survive."
SOURCE: Xinhua
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