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Finns confident of outbidding Australia at UN -

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ELEANOR HALL: The UN will begin voting shortly to decide if Australia should be granted a seat on the Security Council.

One of Australia's two competitors, Finland, says it's confident it already has enough votes to win the seat in the first round.

Finland says it's spent just $2.5 million, one tenth of the amount the Australian Government has spent, and had most of the votes locked up before Australia even entered the race.

North America correspondent Lisa Millar spoke to Finland's ambassador to the UN Jarmo Viinanen.

JARMO VIINANEN: I'm cautiously confident. We have a lot of expression of support for our candidacy so I feel quite good.

LISA MILLAR: How much can you trust those declarations of support?

JARMO VIINANEN: This is a question which I ask myself very often. First of all it's of course very difficult always, at any time to doubt your colleagues and friends when they are saying that they are going to support us so it is very difficult to do but we know from experience that not every promise is going to fulfilled but what is the number, which other countries, I cannot tell.

I guess there are not many undecided at this moment. One can influence them still and remind about the candidacy. I guess, at least for us, it is very much that we remind those countries which have promised to support us at the earlier stage, that the vote is going to be on Thursday and we are going to count on their support.

LISA MILLAR: So you feel that you've previously - and you've been doing this for a long time, I understand that Finland got into this bid 10 years ago, declared itself - you feel that the declarations of support that you've been given will get you across the line and now it's a chance just to remind people that they did say they were going to vote for you?

JARMO VIINANEN: Practically yes. I mean of course we have been working with the same countries for a very long time. I mean you cannot go to an election by the way that you have once you have heard or you've got the written confirmation from a certain country that they are going to support you. We have certainly reminded all of the countries on several occasions on the matter.

LISA MILLAR: Do you think that you have enough votes at this stage to perhaps even win during the first round?

JARMO VIINANEN: This is what we are actually aiming for. I mean we have so many expressions of support that we cannot do anything else but to aim to win the seat already in the first round.

LISA MILLAR: How much of an advantage is it that you came into this bid almost 10 years ago and much earlier than Australia?

JARMO VIINANEN: It is an advantage. It certainly it is an advantage. How big an advantage it is very difficult to say but I know that when Australia entered the race so there were already many countries which had promised their support to Finland and Luxemburg so in that sense it has been probably a little bit more difficult for Australia.

LISA MILLAR: There are some in Australia and perhaps even in your own country who've been very cynical about the process - money being spent, foreign aid promises that are made - what do you say to people that basically this is about buying votes?

JARMO VIINANEN: I can speak only for our part. I mean our campaign budget has been very limited, approximately two million euros, that is probably three million Australian dollars and we haven't actually made any big promises for development or anything like that.

LISA MILLAR: So you don't think that you do have to spend a lot of money to be successful in a bid like this?

JARMO VIINANEN: We couldn't do that so I don't think that either.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Finland's UN ambassador Jarmo Viinanen speaking to our US correspondent, Lisa Millar.