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News, 3/8/2010

Finns on the Costa del Sol expressed their hopes to the Foreign Minister

Following the Gymnich meeting in Cordoba, Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb visited the Costa del Sol area of Spain on the weekend of 6–7 March. During his short visit, the minister had a chance to meet several hundred Finns.

Headmaster Juha Helvelahti and Sakari Pekkarinen, chairman of the school supporters’ association, presented the Finnish comprehensive and senior secondary school to Foreign Minister Stubb. Photo: uusiFuengirola.fi.Headmaster Juha Helvelahti and Sakari Pekkarinen, chairman of the school supporters’ association, presented the Finnish comprehensive and senior secondary school to Foreign Minister Stubb. Photo: uusiFuengirola.fi.

The minister’s comments to Finns and the local Finnish media – the area has its own Finnish radio, a weekly newspaper and three monthly papers – emphasised that Consular services are an important sphere of activities to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and that the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has not forgotten the large Finnish settlement in Costa del Sol.

The strongest hope expressed by the Finnish settlers was for a return of the possibility to apply for a passport at the Consulate in Malaga and the posting of a social worker to the area.

The minister also took part in the opening of a Finnish shopping centre. Photo: uusiFuengirola.fi.The minister also took part in the opening of a Finnish shopping centre. Photo: uusiFuengirola.fi.

The minister’s programme included the opening of the first Finnish shopping centre located outside of Finland, speaking at a citizens’ event organised by the local chapter of the National Coalition Party, attending a party for veterans and visiting the Costa del Sol Finnish comprehensive and senior secondary school, which has a total of 230 students.

The minister congratulated the Finnish paper Olé on its 25 year history. Photo: Markku Keinänen.The minister congratulated the Finnish paper Olé on its 25 year history. Photo: Markku Keinänen.

Despite the heavy rain and stormy weather, several hundred Finns arrived for the shopping centre’s opening ceremony. The shopping centre has Finnish service-providers and shops selling Finnish products. The intention is to have a Finnish information service point there is as well. The minister had the chance to pay tribute to individuals and associations that have worked on behalf of Finns.

The veterans living in Costa del Sol received the minister at their party. Photo: uusiFuengirola.fi.The veterans living in Costa del Sol received the minister at their party. Photo: uusiFuengirola.fi.

A full auditorium, 300 people, attended the citizens’ event. The veterans’ party had 150 participants. Roughly 20 veterans and their spouses managed to come. The minister shook hands with all the veterans.

The visit was an important show of recognition for the estimated 20,000 Finns who spend winters in Costa del Sol. Fuengirola, the ‘capital’ of the Finns in the area, has 3,400 registered Finnish residents. The actual total is probably about three times that number. The Minister received spontaneous applause from people on the street.
 

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Updated 3/8/2010

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