Ambassador of Finland, Mr. Jouko Leinonen and Mr. Pedro Paulo Moreira, President Director of THE GUIDE Business Consultancy.


The embassy of Finland celebrated its national date on December 4, 2018. Recently the ambassador of Finland to Brazil, Mr.Jouko Leinonen, received THE GUIDE for an interview at the embassy, ​​in which subjects were discussed about the characteristics of that beautiful country, among other topics.

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen is interviewed by Mr. Pedro Paulo Moreira

Ambassador Leinonen has a Master’s degree in Political Science (University of Helsinki), Master of Engineering (Aalto University, Helsinki), Bachelor of Economics (University of Montpellier I, France), Bachelor of History (University of Montpellier III, France), PhD studies at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro – UFRJ.  In addition to Finnish, the ambassador speaks Swedish, English, French, Portuguese, German and Spanish. Among his hobbies are the study of languages, philately and literature. The ambassador is a sportsman and also practiced the Brazilian capoeira.

The interview was conducted by Mr. Pedro Paulo Moreira, director of THE GUIDE, and was also attended by Mrs. Andrea Fiuza, Director of the Foreign Trade Chamber of the Association of Commerce, Industry and Services of the state of Goiás – ASCIEG and the Foreign Trade Manager of the state of Goiás, Mr. Ronaldo Costa.

Mrs. Andrea Fiuza, Director of the Foreign Trade Chamber of the Association of Commerce, Industry and Services of the state of Goiás – ASCIEG and the Foreign Trade Manager of the state of Goiás, Mr. Ronaldo Costa were also welcomed by Ambassador Leinonen.


The interview:

THE GUIDE: When did you arrive in Brazil? Is this your first time working in South America?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen: This is the second time I have come to Brazil. I was here from 2000 to 2004 as 1st Secretary. That was my first post in Latin America. As ambassador, I’ve been here since September 2018.

Did you bring your family?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  No. I came alone.

THE GUIDE: Here in Brazil, what states have you known?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen: I have visited all the 26 Brazilian states. I wanted to know the peculiarities of all states. I think this numeric objective is attributed to the fact that I am an engineer. (laughs)

THE GUIDE:  From the time you first worked here for the present, have you found many differences?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  I saw differences and the biggest one was in the economy. Our commercial office in São Paulo, for example, that previously had 2 employees, today has 7. There was a growth in the economy, despite the crisis felt in the last year. One curiosity is that at that time the excitement was for the arrival of Lula, today I perceive the same excitement for President Bolsonaro.

THE GUIDE: What about foreign trade, how are the relations with Brazil?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  Our imports are 650 million Euros from Brazil and our exports are 350 million. Among the products we buy is coffee, as we are one of the most consuming coffee in the world. We compete yearly with Norway on this position (laughs). We also buy machinery.

Another product we buy a lot is cellulose, approximately 130 million euros. In the south of Bahia, there is a pulp production company formed by the union of Brazilian Fibria with a Finnish company Stora Enso. Finland sold a lot of paper to Brazil – today it is Brazil who sells cellulose (ingredient of paper) to Finland. There is no need to overturn the Brazilian forests – everything comes from eucalyptus plantations.

THE GUIDE: Besides a commercial office, do you also have a consulate in São Paulo?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen: Yes, we have a consulate in Sao Paulo since 2017. Even 2 diplomats from the embassy went to work there.

THE GUIDE: What about tourism in your country? Are there many Brazilians touring in Finland?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen: The number of Brazilians visiting Finland has grown, but it can grow much more. We currently receive a large number of tourists from China, as they go to Europe via Helsinki. Still about our tourism, did you know that Santa comes from Lapland – the northernmost province of Finland? There are reindeers there. There are no reindeers at the North Pole, that is why he lives in Lapland! (laughs)

THE GUIDE:  How is the government constituted in your country?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen: The Republic of Finland has 101 years as an independent republic. Before we were an autonomous Grand-Duchy inside Russian empire, but we obeyed the laws inherited from Sweden. We are now a parliamentary country. There are presidential elections every 6 years. Our president was re-elected in January 2018. There is also an election for the members of unicameral parliament. We elect 200 deputies every 4 years.

THE GUIDE: Finland is divided into states, as in Brazil? What is the population of the country?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen: Our country is divided into 6 provinces. Recently a project to increase the provinces to 18 was abandon. Our population is 5.5 million.

THE GUIDE:  Your country was recently famous for the revolution in the educational system. A model  for the world. How is the education process in your country today?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  We have become a world reference in education as a result of a strong reform in our educational system, which began more than 30 years ago. In the 1970s, we set the goal that all teachers should have Master’s degrees. Since then we have always been managing our resources well in education.  We continue to encourage the constant updating of our teachers and use the technology to do so.  Today all our schools are all public and anywhere in the country, the quality is the same.  Our young people receive the same educational base and in our society the children of different social classes attend the same school. This allows equal opportunities for all, regardless of the economic level of the family where the child comes from. Classes in schools are 45 minutes and there is a 15-minute interval between each class, allowing the child to rest and prepare for further teaching.

THE GUIDE: What about teenagers and college students? How are their education?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  As in other countries in Europe, our young people have a lot of exchanges. Our universities are also public and young people arrive there after 9 years of elementary education and 3 years of secondary education. Our system also allows a student from a technical school to take a test, like ENEM in Brazil, and jump to a university. There are universities in Finland with agreements with Brazilian universities.

THE GUIDE:  Speaking now about religion, what is the predominant religion in your country?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen :  Lutheranism is the most predominant religion. Almost 75% of Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and 3% of the population follows the Orthodox Church. Approximately 2% of the population follows other religions and 20% of the population do not belong to any church.

THE GUIDE:  What about sports, which sports do Finns practice the most?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  We are a country of sportsmen. Winter games, for example, you can almost say that they were invented by Finns and Norwegians. We have several highlights in the sport. We are strong in Ice Hockey and in Formula 1 motor racing we have already had four Finnish world champions. We are also prominent in the launch of javelin and one curiosity is that the greatest medalists of the Olympics in athletics is the runner Paavo Nurmi. Usain Bolt and Carl Lewis come only after him. He participated in the Olympics in the 1920s and won 9 gold and 3 silver medals. He hit several world records and was one of the greatest athletes in history. All this in a historic moment when our country was still very poor.

THE GUIDE:  And there are highlights in other areas, such as cultural, for example?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  Yes. We even won a Nobel Prize for literature.  In fact, we also won a Nobel Peace Prize.  It was to Mr. Martti Ahtisaari, the former president of the country and a great mediator.  Other highlights are for the technology area.  I bet you’ve had a Nokia phone! (laughs).  We created the Linux operating system in the early 90’s and we are currently developing the 5G internet, which will permit the internet of things.  Anyway, we are a small country with 5 million inhabitants, but we are active in several areas.

THE GUIDE: What do you think of living in Brasilia?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen:  I really like it and feel at home here. Helsinki is also a very quiet city. For us living at the embassy sector, Brasilia is like a park. I can see the traffic increasing, but this is an indication of progress. I still think the traffic in the Plano Piloto is great. The air is very good too.

THE GUIDE: And what do you think of the Brazilian people? What is the impression on our country?

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen: The Brazilian people are a marvel! They are hospitable, creative and adapt easily to different situations. They are attentive and have a lot of patience in listening to the gringos. (laughs)

I believe that with the increase in the level of education, coming from more investments in the quality, Brazil will be one of the strongest nations in the world. I also think that tourism will be one of the topics of great growth in Brazil.

THE GUIDE: Thanks for the interview, Ambassador Jouko Leinonen. We congratulate your country for being one of the examples to the world.

Ambassador jouko Leinonen: Thank you. It was a pleasure to welcome you.

Ambassador Jouko Leinonen presented the Embassy Social Hall to the visitors.


Objects produced in Finland are exhibited in the Embassy.

THE GUIDE informs that for free coverage of diplomatic events, the invitations should be sent to:

            Mr. Pedro Paulo Moreira
            President Director
            THE GUIDE Business Consultancy 
            SHIS QI 09, Bloco A, Sala 101
            Lago Sul 
            Brasília, DF,  71625-171
            Or to the e-mail