Prime Minister Kiviniemi and Afghanistan
|Tuesday, 19. October 2010 0 comment(s)||
Finland has had a new prime minister for four months.
Prime Minister Mari Kiviniemi has yet to mention in any speech what is
proclaimed to be one of the most significant foreign policy challenges Finland faces – Afghanistan. Prime Minister
Kiviniemi must be the only prime minister in Europe who has not spoken about Afghanistan in
the past four months. Granted, foreign policy is formally steered by the
president, but considering the importance of the issue, there are no good
reasons for why she has remained silent on Finland’s militarily most challenging operation since World War II.
Prime Minister Kiviniemi may not have been involved
nine years ago, when the original participation decisions regarding Afghanistan
were made. However, today she is the head of the Finnish government and
represents the country in EU affairs. Therefore, at least Finland’s
participation in the EUPOL Afghanistan operation falls on her plate. It is also
her government that keeps Finnish soldiers in Afghanistan, where the Provincial
Reconstruction Team in Mazar-e Sharif (PRT MeS) has taken serious casualties in
the past three days, including one dead. These incidents are not an anomaly, during
the past four months joint Swedish-Finnish troops in Afghanistan have seen a significant
increase in violence in their area of operations.
It would be great to see some public acknowledgement of the sacrifices which these individuals are making, and of
the prime minister’s unwavering support for the operation. It should make no
difference that the casualties of the past few days served in the Swedish
military, in PRT MeS the solders see themselves as belonging to ‘one unit’. Prime
Minister Kiviniemi does not need to focus on the negative events in Afghanistan,
it is easy enough to fill a speech with the many positive contributions that Afghans themselves, as well as ISAF, EUPOL, UNAMA, and a host of other actors have made towards a more stable
Afghanistan – an Afghanistan in which the population as a whole gets to choose
who rules them and what the laws of the society are.
on the other hand, Prime Minister Kiviniemi
does not support participation in Afghanistan, she has a lot of
thinking to do. Perhaps it is precisely this which has prevented her
speaking about Afghanistan:
she does not believe that Finland
should participate and is unwilling to bear the political costs of
it publicly? There is no one right perspective on Finnish participation
in operations in Afghanistan, but it would be good to know what the head
of our government thinks about it.
Texts reflect the opinions of the individual authors