Foreign Minister Tuomioja: The right person and the right organisation awarded with the Nobel peace prize

Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja was pleased to hear that the United Nations and Secretary General Kofi Annan were awarded with the Nobel peace prize this year.

“The prize went to the correct address”, Tuomioja commented. “I think that during Mr Annan’s period, the UN has started to play the role which it is meant to play.”

According to Tuomioja, in the fight against terrorism Finland and other countries of the European Union have stressed the role of the UN, multilateral cooperation and implementing existing conventions.

Tuomioja said that the decision made by the UN security council to justify the fight against terrorism was not directed at any particular country. However, according to Tuomioja, the issue of expanding the fight in Afganistan to other countries has not been raised.

“There must be clear grounds for new measures”, he said. It has only been shown that a connection between al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden and the terrorist acts in the United States exists.

According to the minister, it is premature to speculate the duration of the counter attack, but in general the anti-terrorism combat will take a long time, probably years.

An issue that needs speedy addressing is the plight of the Afghan people. Five million Afghans have fled the country and the number of internal refugees is not known. Most of the population can soon be counted as internal refugees, said Tuomioja.

The refugee problem is so immense, said Tuomioja, that placing all refugees in other countries is not possible. Immediate assistance on location is the priority, emphasised Tuomioja, then comes stabilisation of the country in order to allow refugees to return home, and only then the issue of flying refugees to other than the neighbouring countries. However, there must be preparedness to receive refugees in third countries, but it is no solution.

This year Finland has allocated FIM 23,5 million in humanitarian aid to Afghanistan, said Jaakko Laajava, Under Secretary of State, of which the most recent batch was allocated in early October after a serious deterioration of the refugee situation.