Welcome Address by Foreign Minister Soini at the High-level Side Event on Mediation in the OSCE Area

Welcome Address by Mr. Timo Soini, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, at the High-level Side Event on Mediation in the OSCE Area 6 July 2015, Finlandia Hall, Helsinki.

[Check against delivery]

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure for me to open this High-level side event on mediation in the OSCE area together with the President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Mr. Ilkka Kanerva. Mediation is one of the main priorities in Finnish foreign policy. To prevent crises situations the world needs many advocates, friends and actors of mediation and national dialogue. The OSCE, as the world's largest regional security organization, is uniquely positioned to play a crucial role in this field. 

Finland's objective has been to work for strengthening the international normative and institutional basis of mediation. We have acted as a convener of interested parties, and we work hard to encourage international support for mediation. We aim at equipping the field of mediation with better skills, knowledge, institutions, partnerships, and material support needed to prevent and solve conflicts.

In 2010, Finland and Turkey convened the Group of Friends of Mediation at the United Nations. The Group currently brings together 41 countries active in mediation, seven regional organizations and the United Nations. In September, during the high level week of the UN General Assembly, Finland and Turkey will organise the sixth ministerial meeting of the UN Group of Friends.

Finland believes that all regional organizations would benefit from mobilising a force for mediation. The Resolution on 'Development of Mediation Capacity in the OSCE Area' adopted by the OSCE PA at the Baku Annual Session in 2014 was a welcome step forward. Last year Finland, together with Turkey and Switzerland, established the OSCE Group of Friends of Mediation in Vienna. It is very important that we can make better use of the OSCE and the PA in mediation activities in the future. In the European Union we have also launched 'Friends of Mediation', together with Spain.

Finland hopes that the Friends of Mediation-groups will promote mediation both politically and in terms of mobilizing resources.   

I am fully convinced that more mediation, not less, is needed in today's world.  Peace agreements fail far too often. The inclusivity of peace processes cannot be stressed enough. Women's full participation is an urgent priority. Lack of it is a major obstacle to peace. More women must take part in negotiating teams of conflicting parties, and the voices of women must be heard and listened to. National ownership entails that the peace process cannot engage only the government, but the society at large. That is why national and local dialogues are so essential.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have to help all mediators, and conflict-ridden countries themselves, to increase peace. This is the reason why we are so pleased that this high-level side event of the Annual Session of the PA is dedicated to mediation.
Strong involvement in the expanding field of international mediation is the road to take also for the OSCE. I trust that this event will produce many new ideas, insights and seeds for future action. I wish you very fruitful discussions.

Thank you.