Statistics Finland raises global awareness of Finnish competence in data usage

A Twinning project in Azerbaijan, led by Statistics Finland, focusing on Finnish data usage and statistical expertise, was very different from any previous Twinning projects. The project was launched remotely in June 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and it progressed despite the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the new virus variants. The closing event of the project on 11 April 2022 in Baku attracted enormous media attention.

A group of the Azerbaijan State Statistical Committee, State Tax Service and SME Development Agency on a study trip to Finland. Photo: Aytan Narimanli

The consortium led by Statistics Finland included Lithuania, the Netherlands and Denmark. The aim of the project was to enhance the capacities of the national Statistic Agency to develop business statistics in Azerbaijan, especially concerning the small and medium-sized enterprises. In addition to strengthening business statistics, the project’s greatest successes included the promotion of cross-administrative cooperation between the authorities, especially between the Statistics Agency and the State Tax Service.

As the project started remotely, Ville-Matti Pilviö, a long-term Resident Twinning Adviser (RTA) from Statistics Finland, was not able to visit Baku until more than one year after the project had started. According to Pilviö, the project succeeded well remotely and using the hybrid model, and the desire to achieve the set objectives in good cooperation secured successful completion of the project. “Good communications play a key role when many parties are involved and work is done remotely,” Pilviö says.

Interview with Ville-Matti Pilviö, a long-term Resident Twinning Adviser. Photo: Gultakin Babayeva.

Pilviö enjoyed working in Baku. He encourages people who find new cultures and working methods interesting to apply for RTA tasks. If a long-term absence from Finland is not possible, one option is to participate in a Twinning project abroad on a short-term assignment. Pilviö points out that working abroad gives good experience, because Finland’s reputation is good and our country is known for its beautiful nature. Finnish experts also benefit from the fact that we do not tell very easily what others should do. Instead, we explain how we are doing things and present suitable solutions based on them. Interaction is a way to learn for both sides – international cooperation also broadens our own world view.

Congratulations and thanks to Statistics Finland for this excellent project! There is certainly global demand for Finnish public sector expertise, and I hope that suitable methods for promoting Finnish expertise in global contexts will diversify in future.


Text: Heidi Lempinen

The author works as Team Leader of the EU’s administrative development programmes (Twinning, TAIEX, TSI) at the Department for Europe.


More information at, which is the website of the project entitled “Support to the State Committee on Statistics and the State Tax Service under the Ministry of Economy in order to strengthen the collection, processing, analysis and publication of data in the field of business statistics”.


Twinning is a European Union instrument for the development of public administration and legislation in European Union partner countries. The actor(s) implementing the project and the partner country work in close cooperation to achieve the objectives set for the Twinning project. Individual Twinning projects last approximately two years, and one project budget ranges between EUR 1 to 2 million. The project organisers are selected each year in an open tendering process.