Helsinki: India and Finland today signed 19 agreements including one for peaceful use of nuclear energy as well as management of radioactive waste from atomic power plants as President Pranab Mukherjee began his two-day visit to the key Scandinavian country.
The president, who arrived here last night, began his visit to Finland after inspecting a guard of honour which was followed by a one-to-one meeting with his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto and delegation-level talks.
The agreement for nuclear cooperation was signed by Indian Ambassador to Finland Ashok Kumar and Director General of Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland Petteri Tiippana in presence of Mukherjee and Niinisto.
The arrangement for cooperation between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board of India and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland will ensure cooperation in the field of nuclear and radiation safety regulation concerning exchange of information personnel related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy and radiation related to nuclear installations, radiation and nuclear safety including radioactive waste management, safety related issues and research.
It will also cover radiation safety, emergency preparedness, and radioactive waste management associated with the operation of nuclear power plants.
Immediately after the signing ceremony, the Finnish president underlined the importance of India in the world order and said his country was keenly observing the 'Make in India' policy announced recently and also that the two sides had agreed for doubling the trade from existing $ 1.5 billion to $ 3 billion in next three years.
While backing India's candidature in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the Finnish president said there was an immediate need for expanding the world body's top organ and it should include countries like India.
Talking about the relevance of the UN in present crisis in Syria and West Asia, Finland's president said, "Unfortunately, the UN has not been capable of giving a clear answer to situation in Syria or Ukraine. The Finnish perception is that we consider that veto right in Security Council is one obstacle that makes decision making in the UN very difficult indeed".
"We also see that UNSC should be enlarged by including countries like India," he said.
Niinisto said the West should understand the most of the people from in the world come from different culture, tradition and "we should understand more and more other countries."
He said while Finland believes to see all the countries cooperative rather being competitive as "together we have to face great challenges including that of climatic changes".
"In world order there is a change taking place but I won't say somebody is losing or somebody is gaining. We have to understand these new realities" which includes international fora like BRICS.
Later briefing reporters, Secretary (West) Navtej Sarna said the two presidents talked about situation in Afghanistan and Ukraine and terrorism.
"The President told his Finnish counterpart that the notion of a not so good or not so bad terrorist was a dangerous expression," he said.
The president was given Medal of Honour of Helsinki during lunch hosted by Chairman of City Council Mari Puoskari.
Asked whether the issue of Nokia was discussed with Mukherjee, the Finnish president said there was no detailed discussion on this but "we believe there has been a court verdict in connection with British telecom company Vodafone".
"Let us wait and see now," he said. During his visit, the President would also visit Rovaniemi town which is across the Arctic Circle and is known as official Santa Claus village. "This is an actual village. There is a Santa Claus post office, there is a Santa Claus house and various things," he said.
Sarna said Finland has been very supportive of India on the Nuclear Suppliers Group issue, in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), on UN Security Council reforms, as well as for India's entry into the Arctic Council.
The two sides have also signed a number of pacts covering sectors like education, energy, and fishing on a government-to-government, business-to-business as well as institution-to-institution level.
"Finland is also one of the countries which has already been listed for waiver of diplomatic official passport holders for visa purposes," he said.
It is the first visit by an Indian president to Finland in 26 years. Late President R Venkataraman had visited the country in 1988. Mukherjee had travelled to Finland as Commerce Minister in 1993.
In Helsinki, Mukherjee will address a business seminar and will also visit 'Arktikum' museum and Arctic Science Centre.
Mukherjee is accompanied by a high-level delegation that includes Union Minister P Radhakrishnan, senior officials and senior representatives of educational and academic institutions and the business community.