Contributing to Peace and Development

Mr. Pekka Haavisto

Pekka Haavisto in Darfur

- Africa has always been the most important continent for Finnish development cooperation. We have regular partners over there. A typical example was the famine in Somalia when Finnish humanitarian aid was rapidly deployed, explains Pekka Haavisto, Member of Finnish Parliament, and an experienced capacity and peace building professional.

Development and Security Go Hand in Hand
- Of course development and security go hand in hand. Therefore Finland is actively promoting peace and security in Africa, Mr. Haavisto notes. He has been personally involved in the Darfur peace process as the European Union Special Representative from 2005 to 2007.

Finland is Welcomed in Peace Processes
- It was nice to see how welcome Finland was in the aid processes in Sudan, Darfur and Somalia. This is due to our close relations with the African Union. Finnish cabinet ministers and our former President Martti Ahtisaari have been regularly participating in AU summits, analyzes Mr. Haavisto.

Mr. Haavisto, who is a former Minister of the Environment, wants to emphasize the new role Finland can fulfill in Africa.

- When I have been following the EU – AU cooperation, I have always been saying that we should not concentrate so much on talks on development cooperation, but rather we should address the political coordination of our efforts. Nowadays African Union and African countries are taking an active role in peace mediation on the African continent. Finland could certainly contribute both in political and peacekeeping capacity.

Mr. Haavisto reminds us that Finland has helped African crisis management capabilities in many ways – mainly focusing on training and education.

Providing a Neutral Ground for Negotiations
- I am impressed when Finnish organizations like the Finn Church Aid have been organizing meetings with Somali elders and traditional leaders in Finland. Using the diaspora component together with the stakeholder component is a good idea in the deep integration of diaspora in peace processes, such as was witnessed in Somalia.

Finland Does Not Have a Colonialist Past
- When we look at the European Union cooperation with Africa, sometimes the African countries are raising the question ”Well these are the people that we know from the past, these are the people from our colonial days”. Then we have to remind that Finland was not part of that development but we were one of those countries that supported the liberation movements in Africa at a very early stage – our history with Africa is very different from the countries with colonialist past.

- Sometimes I hear that it is easy for a Finn to come to mediate because Finns never had a war or a real conflict. Then I have to remind that person that we have quite a bit of war history: a very bitter civil war in 1918, the Winter War and the Continuation War against the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1944. Then people are asking me, how can you live with your neighbors peacefully after all these experiences? My answer is: maybe this is a lesson learned that we can teach to others as well,” Mr. Haavisto concludes.