The Promise of the Coming Finnish Presidency of the EU

Speaking of Halliday, he sees much promise in Finland’s coming presidency of the EU, in openDemocracy.

Finland is also intent on using the EU presidency to promote more active dialogue with the Muslim world and with the middle east. The country’s long association with UN peace-keeping and diplomacy in conflict-zones is an asset here. Martti Ahtisaari is only the most prominent current figure in this regard; the former Finnish president (1994-2000) has applied experience gained in Namibia and Kosovo to his Crisis Management Initiative, which specialises in conflict-prevention, state-building and human-security projects.

The Finns are worried by the tensions between Europe and the Muslim world over Iraq and Iran, which (as with the Danish cartoon crisis) have a “domestic” as well as foreign-policy dimension: the presence of large migrant communities across western Europe means that even countries of the Baltic region are no longer insulated from the shockwaves of conflict in or relating to the middle east.