Finnish FM wants world to stand firmly by Afghans
WASHINGTON (PAN): With security transition set to be completed by 2014 and peace talks with the Taliban underway, the people of Afghanistan need the support of the international community more than at any time in the past, a top Finnish diplomat said on Thursday.
“In light of the transition process in Afghanistan, it is important that the international community maintains and focuses its support. Now more than ever, it is the time to stand by the Afghan people,” said Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioji.
After a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during which the current situation in Afghanistan was one of the major topics, he was speaking at a panel discussion on “Women, Peace and Security in Afghanistan: Prospects on the Way Forward”.
The challenges in this field are daunting, according to Tuomioji, who said: “This is why it is of utmost importance that both women and men participate in the process. If women are left out, it will mean that half of the energy, capacity and knowledge will be neglected. Needless to say, we cannot afford this.”
In his remarks, Afghan Ambassador to the US Eklil Ahmad Hakimi acknowledged that despite progress over the past decade, shortcomings still existed in Afghanistan. “A strong and enduring partnership between the government of Afghanistan and the international community will be required to meet these challenges.”
It was important for the international community to promote long-term economic development, trade and investment in Afghanistan whose economic stability directly affected global security, he added. “Without a viable economy it will be more difficult to counter the insurgency.”
Melanne Verveer, ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s Issues, and Larry Sampler, senior deputy assistant administrator for the office of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Samira Hamidi were other speakers at the panel discussion.
Verveer discussed the importance of women’s participation in the transition process. She said: “One of the women that I met in Afghanistan left a great impression on me when she said ‘do not look at us as victims, but as the leaders we are.’ We can help Afghanistan face its future challenges, but it must also include women as full partners.”