In his address to the personnel of the Foreign Ministry's Department for Development Policy on 7 March, Minister for Foreign Affairs Soini said that Europe should now adopt a new approach in its policy on Africa. Minister Soini's speech was held by Permanent State Secretary Matti Anttonen.
In his speech at the annual meeting of Finnish Heads of Mission last summer, Foreign Minister Soini noted that Africa is Europe’s destiny. Africa’s geopolitical position is changing and Europe is no longer its only partner. Competition for partnerships with and investment opportunities in Africa is currently hard. China and Russia are increasing their influence.
“Africa should be considered an opportunity and an equal partner. This means that we should conduct active political dialogue, outline our common interests, and establish concrete objectives. As partners, we can exchange views on how to develop our economic relations and how to better manage migration,” Foreign Minister Timo Soini says.
Finland is well known in Africa. Finland's education system and the welfare state as well as our contribution to the promotion of the rights of women and girls are appreciated. Soini underlined that this positive image should be diversified and passed on to future generations. Contacts with African countries and societies, especially with African youth, should be fostered.
However, Finland cannot respond to all challenges. Soini stresses three themes: Firstly, conflict prevention and mediation with a special focus on the role of youth and women. Secondly, Finland should invest on the development of education more than before and, thirdly, focus on boosting the introduction of climate-friendly technology.
“In developing the relations, Finland has an advantage in relation to the colonial powers. Our relations with countries in Africa are based on open and equal interaction. Finland's own history proves that a small and poor country can advance to the vanguard of international development,” Minister Soini emphasises.
In the Ministry, we should adopt more comprehensive and consistent procedures. In his speech, Soini informed that Finland will expand its cooperation with African countries to cover a larger geographical area and proposed that in the next budget planning period Finland open a new embassy in Côte d'Ivoire. The network of honorary consuls will be developed, too.
“More diversified cooperation does not mean that the significance of development cooperation will diminish but that the cooperation would include, for example, the promotion of the international rules-based order. This is essential now that many great powers are undermining the system. Furthermore, we should consistently continue developing the commercial and economic relations with the emerging economies in Africa,” Soini says.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland.