Office of the President of the Republic of Finland
Press Release 19 January 2011
President of the Republic Tarja Halonen visited the Finnish crisis management forces in Afghanistan on Tuesday and Wednesday, 18–19 January 2011. The President’s entourage also included the Commander of the Defence Forces, General Ari Puheloinen.
During the visit the President of the Republic was given a progress report by both the international and Finnish crisis management forces. The President inspected the honorary contingent of the Finnish troops and reviewed the operations of the Finnish crisis management forces. President Halonen also met Finns taking part in civilian crisis management.
On the afternoon of Tuesday, 18 January, the President of the Republic arrived on a military flight in Mazar-e Sharif, home to a regional reconstruction group. President Halonen and General David H. Petraeus, ISAF Commander, had a video discussion about the status of the operation, with the highest-ranking civilian representative of NATO, Ambassador Mark Sedwill, also taking part. In addition, Major General Hans-Werner Fritz, Commander of ISAF Regional Command North, explained the outlook for his region at Camp Marmal.
From there the President, together with her host, Lieutenant Colonel Mikael Feldt, Commander of the Finnish crisis management forces, moved on to Camp Northern Lights, the base of the Finnish forces, where she inspected the honorary contingent. The President discussed the current state of the operation and plans for 2011. She was briefed on security events that took place in 2010 and given a presentation on, among other issues, the operation’s arrangements for medical care. President Halonen also met soldiers for a discussion at the base.
On Wednesday, 19 January, President Halonen’s programme included a review of the maintenance and replenishment operations of the Finnish crisis management forces at Camp Marmal and meeting Finns working for EUPOL.
As the subject of the President of the Republic’s inspection visit were the Finnish crisis management forces in Afghanistan, the programme did not include meetings with Afghanistan’s national or regional leaders. President of the Republic Tarja Halonen returns home on Wednesday evening.
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Approximately 180 Finnish soldiers are taking part in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan, and the number may grow to a maximum of 195. In total, the ISAF operation involves approximately 130,000 soldiers, and is led by NATO, with 48 countries contributing.
Also present in Afghanistan is EUPOL, an EU-led civilian crisis management operation that employs approximately 35 Finnish experts. All in all, there are approximately 300 experts taking part in the EUPOL operation.
Finland has been participating in the ISAF operation in Afghanistan since 2002. Transfer of responsibility for security to the Afghans has begun, intended for gradual completion by the end of 2014.
Finland provides comprehensive support for Afghanistan, through development cooperation as well as military and civilian crisis management. Finnish support last year totalled approximately 53 million euros, of which development cooperation accounted for approximately 20 million euros.