Speech by Minister Tuomioja at the meeting of Nordic foreign ministers in Brussels

Speech by Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja at ISAF meeting of foreign ministers organised in connection with the meeting of foreign ministers and defence ministers of NATO countries on Thursday 19th April 2012  in Brussels

Mr. Secretary General,

Finland welcomes this opportunity to have a discussion on Afghanistan in ISAF Foreign Minister’s format as we are preparing ourselves for the important decisions to be taken in the Chicago Summit.

Finland remains committed to Afghanistan. In its latest report on Afghanistan, our government confirmed and our parliament approved the continueation of our support and it being direct it to respond to the evolving needs of the transition.

The focus of our participation will gradually shift towards civilian efforts and training of the Afghan Security Authorities. Finland’s development aid to Afghanistan will grow substantially and our strong involvement in the European Union Police Mission in Afghanistan will continue. We have also decided to join the Danish 3 C -initative. Looking into the future the Finnish government also welcomes the possible NATO-led follow up mission focusing on training and advising.

Mr. Secretary General,

A stable Afghanistan is in all of our interest. In our view, a secure environment will speed up the progress in promoting democracy, human rights, especially women’s rights, and reducing poverty in Afghanistan. At the same time, it is important that Afghanistan takes responsibility of its own development and is committed to promote stability and basic rights of the people of Afghanistan.

Once the transition has been completed, the security responsibility lies on the Afghan National Security Forces. We stay committed to supporting ANSF financially via the existing NATO- and UN-mechanisms and also through training and mentoring.

We see the role of Afghan women vital for a successful transition and a lasting political settlement. In determining the future financing of the ANSF, it is important to clearly allocate funds to ensure women’s full participation in these processes. Special emphasis should be on women in the Afghan Police and Army, and in ensuring that these forces are able to serve all members of the community regardless of gender.

Finally, let me congratulate ISAF on the progress made in implementing UNSCR 1325. I would also like to encourage further efforts in mainstreaming the gender-perspective into all aspects of the operation.