Speech by Minister Haavisto at the reception for Eastern Europe and Central Asia
Speech by Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto at the reception for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Helsinki 20 August 2019.
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- It is my privilege to attend this reception that has already become a pleasant tradition.
- The new coalition government of Finland is now in place and the work has started with full force. Our government programme is very ambitious. On foreign and security policy issues, it is based on our common values, rule of law, human rights (particularly women and children), equality and media freedom.
- Environment and climate change are an essential part of the Finnish foreign and security policy, and therefore also underlined in the government programme. Actually, what comes to climate change, the programme may be the most ambitious in the world.
- Unfortunately, the security situation in our continent has not improved in recent years. We have to stand firm and defend the basic principles of European security, international law and respect for the territorial integrity of all countries.
- Despite some recent setbacks in international negotiations, for instance on arms control and trade policy, we still believe in a world governed by the rule of law and multilateral cooperation.
- The Finnish EU-Presidency takes place in a very challenging time: the change of the Commission, the Brexit and some extremely difficult negotiations (multiannual financial framework, climate change, migration etc.).
- Peace mediation, particularly in Africa, will be prominently present during our EU-Presidency. Also Venezuela, Western Balkans, the Middle East and many other regions will get our full attention.
- Our cooperation with Eastern Europe and Central Asia reflects well Finland’s foreign policy and strategic priorities. Our common values and mutual interests have been the anchor of our cooperation and contributed to enhancing stability and prosperity in our neighbourhood, and so it will be also in the future.
- We are committed to support reform processes in your countries. The essence of the reforms is to improve the living conditions of citizens, increase prosperity and bring stability. Reforms are necessary for strengthening the resilience of our societies.
- In general, the relations between the EU and Eastern Europe and Central Asian states are deeper than ever before. We, at the Foreign Ministry, and I personally want to deepen the relations even further. I’m looking forward to visit your countries in my capacity as foreign minister.
- In addition to political support, Finland continues to contribute through development cooperation. Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan and Tadzhikistan are our main partners. Despite the recent cuts in the development cooperation funding, we have been able to increase our projects in Ukraine and continue them in Central Asia.
- We have also continued sending monitors and experts to different missions in the region (including the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission and Advisory Mission in Ukraine, EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia and EU border Assistance Mission in Moldova.)
- In May we celebrated the 10th Anniversary of the Eastern Partnership (EaP). No doubt, EaP has been a success. It has brought concrete results and benefits for the citizens both in the region and in the EU.
- Finland will continue this work. Our theme is resilience. We invite Eastern Partners to expert events in Helsinki (hybrid, education, rule of law and media). Let’s work together for achieving our common goals.
- For the Central Asian states, I will personally chair four cooperation councils in Brussels. I hope we can continue our fruitful cooperation also in this framework.
- The new EU Central Asia strategy was adopted in June. It is now the right time to implement it remembering its key areas, such as education, environment and security.
- Thank you for your attention and success in your important work.