It happened on March 27: The Hungarian parliament ratified Finland’s NATO membership by majority vote. This was a decision I had been waiting for for a long time, if not already prior to starting my time in early November 2022 as FinnAgora’s interim director. Dates for the decision making were several times set and then canceled, which understandably at times made the Finnish community frustrated. However, now we rejoice, although we do not understand why Sweden was yet left waiting.

At the Embassy residence my dear colleagues at Finnagora and the Embassy hosted a sympathetic farewell gathering. The Ambassador spoke beautifully, also reminding me this was indeed already my third time leaving this very post. This made me think back to these different periods, my first being already during the years 2008 and 2009. Things were a bit different back then, or at least as I remember. It was easier to make things happen and keep up an ongoing, active and innovative discussion among diverse actors. Sometimes there were disagreements but also always a joint decision was found.

FinnAgora is abreast of the times. It should be observant to the changes in its environment, acting according to its values. FinnAgora has secured its spot as an important institute with its wide scope reaching from culture and education to science and economy. The themes can change annually, as needs vary. The most important thing, however, is the collective reflection and conversation, which is needed among diverse operators in both Hungary and Finland. Therefore, I wish that in Hungary we would see more participation of cultural- and scientific organisations as well as the public administration in these conversations.

I am so glad that FinnAgora’s new director Heljä Franssila will commence her work in early April. It has been a pleasure to have had many discussions with her during February and March. It goes without saying that no introduction is complete, many things will take shape when starting the actual work. The new director will get to the swing of things quite immediately, as late spring is quite a busy time for FinnAgora with very interesting events taking place.

For myself this shift means changing my position from interim director to a member of FinnAgora’s foundation’s board and work committee. I believe I will be able to give more in my new position as I during my time as an interim director updated some of the institute’s practical work as well as its operating environment. FinnAgora and the people working at FinnAgora are dear to us!

Anneli Temmes

Board member of the FinnAgora foundation

Interim director until March 31, 2023.