Hope India can help in negotiations to end Ukraine conflict: Finland minister

NEW DELHI: Finland’s economic affairs minister Mika Lintilä said on Monday that he hopes India can help in negotiations to end the conflict in Ukraine, which has had a huge impact on the economic and security sectors across Europe.

There is also a lot of scope for India and Finland to work jointly on critical and emerging technologies, especially in quantum computing and 5G and 6G, to develop solutions that are transparent and trustworthy, he said in an interview.

Lintilä and undersecretary of state for economic affairs Petri Peltonen are currently visiting India with a business delegation to attract Indian investments and companies to Finland and to forge collaboration in quantum technology, telecommunications, artificial intelligence (AI) and renewable energy.

Finland and India: different in size, but same in goals: future with innovative quantum technology. Today our two countries strengthened our cooperation. Thankyou for fruitful meeting, minister ⁦@DrJitendraSinghpic.twitter.com/0VcjGIR4Zb

— Mika Lintilä (@MikaLintila) April 18, 2022

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has had serious implications for the whole of Europe and more than 60% of Finnish citizens now want the country to become a member of NATO, Lintilä said.

Asked if India’s response to the Ukraine crisis figured in his conversations with his Indian interlocutors, Lintilä replied: “Actually this is the foreign minister’s sector but of course, I hope that India can help in negotiations. If India can do something, we are very grateful for that, because [at this time] it feels that negotiations don’t have any results.”

India has repeatedly called for an end to hostilities in Ukraine and a return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also suggested that there should be direct talks between the Russian and Ukrainian presidents.

Lintilä said nobody knows what Russian President Vladimir Putin thinks about the situation. The trade and economic situation have been complicated by the conflict, but people in Europe think tight sanctions in areas such as energy, finance and logistics must be maintained “whatever it costs”, he added.

“Finland strongly condemns the Russian attack. Russian actions target Ukraine but they are also an attack on European security as a whole. The Russian attack is a flagrant violation of international law and the UN Charter. The whole of Europe is in some kind of shock that in 2022, there is a war in Europe,” Lintilä said.

Finland has a long history of tensions with both the erstwhile Soviet Union and Russia. The two sides fought the bitter Winter War during 1939-40, and Finland has a 1,340-km border with Russia. Unlike other members of the European Union such as Germany, Finland is not as dependent on Russian energy, especially gas, and trade with Russia accounts for only about 5% of Finland’s total trade.

On Monday, Lintilä and minister of state for science and technology Jitendra Singh announced the establishment of the Indo-Finnish virtual network centre on quantum computing to give a push to innovative research and development projects.

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) and the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) in Pune will be part of the new virtual network from the Indian side.

Lintilä and Peltonen said there is scope for the two countries to join hands to develop transparent and trustworthy solutions in critical and emerging technologies, especially quantum computing, AI and telecommunications. Peltonen said the Indian Institutes of Technology are natural candidates for collaborating with Finnish research organisations in these fields, and Finland will also foster industry-to-industry cooperation.

Finland is seen as one of the most advanced countries in cryogenic quantum computers, which are cooled down to almost absolute zero, and this niche technology could be a new area of collaboration, Peltonen said.

“What connects India and Finland is trusted connectivity and being able to develop technologies that are trustworthy and transparent, which is becoming more and more important as lives and societies become digital,” Peltonen said. “We need to develop new technologies but we also need to administer the usage of those,” he added.

Lintilä will meet the Union ministers for commerce, power and petroleum on Tuesday and a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in renewable energy is also set to be signed.


    Rezaul H Laskar is the Foreign Affairs Editor at Hindustan Times. His interests include movies and music.

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