Minister for Foreign Affairs Haavisto in Afghanistan— pledging conference arrangements on the final stages

Minister for Foreign Affairs Pekka Haavisto paid a two-day visit to Afghanistan on 26–27 October 2020. The main purpose of the visit was to discuss current issues and the 2020 Afghanistan Conference, co-hosted by Finland, the Afghan Government and the United Nations, which will be held in November. “The pledging conference will take place in the middle of a historic peace process. Support from the international community is needed to have a sustainable foundation for the peace process. As one of the co-hosts of the Conference, Finland plays a central role in ensuring that this support will be available,” Haavisto says.

Afghanistan is at a crossroads: the Afghan-Taliban peace talks were launched in Doha, capital of Qatar, in September. Finland hopes that the talks will lead to a sustainable peace and that the achievements reached in the past 19 years in the areas of women's rights, democracy and human development will last and be further developed.  “An end to violence is a precondition for a successful peace process. Finland urges the parties to declare an immediate ceasefire. The country has been at war for four decades. People in Afghanistan deserve peace,” Foreign Minister Haavisto emphasises.

Finland is preparing the 2020 Afghanistan Conference, which will be held in Geneva on 23–24 November, together with the Afghan Government and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Conference will follow a hybrid format. Participation is possible both in person and virtually. The preparations have proceeded in good cooperation and on schedule.
In the Conference, donor countries are expected to confirm their commitment to supporting Afghanistan in the next four years and to agree on the guidelines and terms of the support. 

“A stable Afghanistan that handles its own economy is in the interest of Finland and the whole European Union. Reaching this goal means a long and difficult road but the peace process offers an opportunity to take a significant step forward,” Foreign Minister Haavisto says.

Meetings with Afghan Government and organisations

While in Kabul, Foreign Minister Haavisto met President Ashraf Ghani, Vice President Amrullah Saleh, Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Hanif Atmar, Minister of Finance Abdul Hadi Arghandiwal, State Minister for Peace Seyed Sadat Mansoor Naderi, National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib and NATO Senior Civilian Representative Stefano Pontecorvo as well as diplomats. 

The discussions with the political leadership of Afghanistan focused on the pledging conference, the peace process, the security situation, and bilateral matters. Foreign Minister Haavisto expressed Finland's strong support for the peace process and the country's commitment to supporting Afghanistan. Women's rights and human rights issues were a central part of the discussions. Foreign Minister Haavisto also brought up the cooperation between our two countries in migration questions.

One of the key aims of the visit was to hear the views of civil society organisations active in Afghanistan. Minister Haavisto participated a roundtable discussion on development and the pledging conference. He had meetings with representatives of local and international organisations, including UN Women Representative in Afghanistan Aleta Miller and Finnish development cooperation workers in the country. 

Foreign Minister Haavisto had a phone discussion with Colonel Joni Lindeman, Chief of Finnish Detachment in Afghanistan, and sent his best regards to the troops . About 60 Finns are currently serving in the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission.
Finland has participated in the international cooperation to stabilise, reconstruct and develop Afghanistan since 2002. Finland promotes peace and security, economic and social development, and the implementation of human rights, especially the rights of women and girls, in Afghanistan. 

Finland works for a stable Afghanistan, which respects the principles of international law and does not cause any threat to international security through terrorism or organised crime. The approximately EUR 28 million in development cooperation and humanitarian assistance granted to Afghanistan by Finland is directed mainly via the World Bank, the UN system and international organisations. 

For security reasons, information about Foreign Minister Haavisto's visit was not published before the trip.

The previous Finnish ministerial visit to Afghanistan was made by Foreign Minister Timo Soini in 2016.

Inquiries:

Otto Turtonen, Special Adviser to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 295 350 015 and Matti Keppo, Team Leader, Afghanistan, tel. +358 295 535 0778.
 

2020 Afghanistan Conference 

Photos of the visit