Ambassador Pekka Lintu prepares for the European Union’s presidency in Washington, D.C., from July to December. He presented his credentials to President George Bush at the Oval Office.
Ambassador Pekka Lintu, Mrs. Laurel Colless and their 2-year-old daughter Olivia visited the White House under sunny circumstances – the thermometer rose to 85 degrees, rare for March. They were equally delighted by the warm welcome at the White House, which launched their duties as Finland’s ambassadorial couple in the United States.
When speaking with Ambassador Lintu, it is clear that he has set his priorities for the next few years and beyond:
“Nothing is more important to success in this task than an extensive network of contacts,” he said at Finland’s chancery on Embassy Row later in the day.
“It is crucial as we chair the work of the European Union this fall. Naturally we also want to make sure that we continue to be an appreciated partner for the United States after the presidency has been completed.”
Before his posting in Washington, Ambassador Lintu worked in Helsinki as the Under-Secretary for External Economic Relations. He has spent most of his career covering economic issues in various positions.
“Good economic relations are the backbone of our relationship with the U.S., both in the transatlantic and bilateral setting,” Lintu said.
“The connections between Finland and the United States today are so versatile and the agenda so global that it can seem like a lot to chew. The good news is that the relations are excellent and dynamic,” he added.
Lintu served as Finland’s ambassador to Japan from 1994 to 2000. He is pleased to remember the many foundations, chambers of commerce, honorary consuls and members of the business community and cooperation projects he endorsed during his tenure.
“We helped create an organic network which grows and strengthens on its own. My goal again, this time in the U.S., is to further develop and support these existing channels and to raise the level of mutual knowledge and contacts.”
Ambassador Lintu is enthusiastic about the chancery building, which is quite famous for its architecture and a landmark in its own right. In many people’s opinions it is the embodiment of “Brand Finland”.
“This is an ideal place to work in and to have an influence. The challenge is to re-invent the content over and over again and stay relevant,” Lintu said.
Right now this doesn’t seem to be the biggest worry as he eyes the ambitious meeting schedule for the months of the EU presidency and the many cultural and media events waiting in the pipeline.