Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the Meeting on Afghanistan at the Chicago Summit on 21 May 2012

(check against delivery)

It is a great pleasure for me to participate in an ISAF meeting here in Chicago. I would also like to thank president Obama for the warm hospitality.

Today important decisions are taken on the future of the ISAF-mission. History may not always teach us clear lessons. But surely one such lesson learned is that leaving Afghanistan alone is not an option.

Security and stability of Afghanistan has been in the interest of all of us during the recent decade. Afghanistan and international community have been working very hard to reach this goal. Together with the Afghan people we will continue to build a secure and stable country where human rights are promoted, governance enhanced and poverty reduced. While we confirm our commitment to support Afghanistan in this, the government of Afghanistan needs to embrace its own commitments with firm determination.

Another important lesson is that we have to ensure women’s full participation in the peace and transition processes. Only in this way we can achieve sustainable results. Implementing United Nations’ Security Council Resolution 1325 is a joint responsibility. Finland and Afghanistan launched Women, Peace and Security cooperation in November 2010.

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ISAF has made great progress. But work remains to be done. Transition by the end of 2014 is a clear goal. To support this aim, Finland’s military participation continues. We will continue our participation in the EU police mission as well.

As the transition proceeds, our focus will shift towards civilian efforts and training the Afghan Security Authorities. Afghan National Security Forces have a crucial role in the future of Afghanistan. We need to build forces that are capable of providing security for all Afghan citizens regardless of gender while operating in accordance with the rule of law and respecting human rights. To reach this, we must support the training, advising and sustainment of the ANSF until and beyond the accomplishment of the transition.

Let me assure you that Finland will meet its responsibilities. In addition to our 7.65 million dollar (6 million euros) annual support to Afghanistan Security Forces starting in 2014, we are raising the amount of our development aid up to 25.5 million dollars (20 million euros). Furthermore, our humanitarian aid, NGO and contribution to civilian crisis management will remain on a level of 12.75 million dollars (10 million euros) per year.

Finally, Finland is prepared to contribute to the NATO-led follow-on mission. We also welcome ISAF´s commitment to support ANSF financing.