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Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

History - Embassy of Finland, New Delhi : Embassy : History


E-3, Nyaya Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021, India
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Finland and India established diplomatic relations on 1 October 1949. The first envoy of Finland, Mr. Hugo Valvanne, arrived in Delhi soon after this.

Although India had at this point been an independent state for over two years, her new constitution had not yet been finalised and the Republic was yet to be declared. It is therefore that envoy Valvanne presented his credentials to the Governor-General of India, Mr. C. Rajagopalachari. After the constitution had come into force on 26 January 1950, envoy Valvanne re-presented his credentials to the first President of the nation, Mr. Rajendra Prasad, in February.

Finding suitable premises for the Embassy in the late 40’s and early 50’s was difficult. Ambassador Valvanne reported back to the headquarters: “With great effort I have managed to get one room in Hotel Cecil for myself and my wife. My secretary and the chancery are located in a double room of the nearby Hotel Maiden’s.” The Embassy of Finland was located in Hotel Cecil for two years, from 1949 to 1951.

The issue of Embassy premises became a prolonged problem. In 1954, the Government of India sold Finland a plot of land in Chanakyapuri (between the Swiss and the Swedish Embassies) for a nominal price, but due to lack of money the construction work took a long time to start. In 1951-1958 the Embassy was located at Humayun Road in a barrack that had been built in 1942 for temporary war-time use and that was constantly under the threat of being demolished. In 1958-1967 the Embassy was located at Prithviraj Road.

In the early 60’s, an architectural competition for the new Embassy was organised in Finland. The competition was won by Mr. Reima Pietilä and Ms. Raili Paatelainen (later Pietilä). However, other Finnish Embassy projects around the world and the subsequent lack of money kept the Delhi Embassy project in ice for years to come. Already in 1963, the Government of India sent out a note verbal to Finland pointing out that the construction work was long overdue. The unconstructed plot of land was attracting unsocial layers of the society to the diplomatic enclave; additionally, the neighbours were appalled by the numbers of cobras residing on the Finnish plot.

In 1967, the Embassy moved from Prithviraj Road to Golf Links, first to 42 Golf Links (1967–1979) and subsequently to 25 Golf Links (1979–1986). It was finally only in the early 80’s that the construction work of the new Embassy got started, based on the plan by Reima and Raili Pietilä. The Embassy was inaugurated on 5 December 1986, hence meaning that it celebrated its 20 years of existence in 2006.

Ambassadors of Finland to India from 1949 till today:

  • Mr. Hugo Valvanne 1949-1956
  • Mr. Aaro Pakaslahti 1956-1959
  • Mr. Sigurd von Numers 1959-1961
  • Mr. Veli Helenius 1961-1964
  • Mr. Asko Ivalo 1964-1968
  • Mr. Wilhelm Schreck 1968-1974
  • Ms. Brita (Riitta) Örö 1974-1979
  • Mr. Risto Hyvärinen 1979-1984
  • Mr. Jan Groop 1984-1988
  • Mr. Jyrki Aimonen 1988-1991
  • Ms. Marjatta Rasi 1991-1995
  • Mr. Benjamin Bassin 1995-2001
  • Mr. Glen Lindholm 2001-2005
  • Mr. Asko Numminen 2005-2009
  • Ms. Terhi Hakala 2009-2012
  • Mr. Aapo Pölhö 2013-2016
  • Ms. Nina Vaskunlahti 2016-
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Updated 9/14/2016

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