The Nordic and African countries gathered at Aulanko in summery surroundings
The Nordic foreign ministers met this weekend, 15–16 June, with their colleagues from eleven African countries. The meeting was hosted by Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja. In addition to the Nordic countries, the participants came from Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The themes discussed at this meeting were the Nordic welfare state, inclusive economic growth and Africa’s conflicts. The atmosphere of the talks remained open throughout the meeting, and the participants enjoyed both the discussions and the beautiful weather and Finnish nature.
Minister Erkki Tuomioja stated that the meeting was a great success: “The talks took place in an open atmosphere throughout the entire weekend. At dinner, where only the ministers were present, it was possible also to discuss matters that are not necessarily discussed at public events. The wish has been to keep the meeting informal with no final statement, but this sort of meeting always leads to different cooperation patterns both between the EU, the Nordic countries and Africa as well as in bilateral relations.”
Aside from the joint discussions, during the weekend Tuomioja had bilateral meetings with his colleagues from South Africa, Benin, Mozambique, Senegal and Zambia. Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala took part in the meeting on Sunday.
The meeting was a success with respect to both its number of participants and its level, as despite last minute changes, all of the invited countries were represented. In total ten ministers and four deputy foreign ministers attended, and two countries were represented by an ambassador.
Nkoloi Nkoloi, Ambassador of the United Nations Mission of Botswana, a participant at many Nordic-African Foreign Ministers Meetings, described the atmosphere of the meeting as good and said the meeting is a unique opportunity to exchange views on an informal level with the Nordic countries.
At the press conference Nigerian Foreign Minister Olugbenga Ashiru stressed the opportunities that Africa’s economy offers for Nordic investments. According to him, Africa is a huge continent, full of opportunities and resources the utilisation of which calls for Nordic quality expertise.
Minister of Administration Mamadou Namory Traore of Mali was satisfied with the views of his colleagues on the management of Mali’s crisis. He stressed that he hopes for cooperation with the neighbouring countries and also with European countries so that the situation in Mali could be calmed down as soon as possible.
The annual Nordic-African Foreign Ministers Meeting was held now for the twelfth time. Next year the host will be South Africa. The next host country intends to take from Finland at least the open atmosphere that was achieved at the meeting in Aulanko.