Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala, who represented Finland at this weekend’s conference on Afghanistan in Tokyo, stresses that the aid pledged to Afghanistan is conditional.
Hautala says that Afghanistan must meet the targets set for it in order to receive the support that the international community promised at the summit in Japan. The subsidies are to total some 13 billion euros over the next four years.
“The Afghan government has strongly committed to focus on developing good governance, human rights and women’s rights,” Hautala said on Sunday. “This is a new situation, because the international community has now received clear guarantees as to the conditional nature of the support.”
Focus on gender equality
Finland says it will initially support the Kabul government to the tune of 20 million euros a year. It plans to raise this annual sum to some 30 million euros later. In line with the international community’s long-term commitments, Finland’s support level will remain steady until at least 2017, Hautala explains.
Finland is focusing its development aid to improving women’s rights in Afghanistan.
“Finland is concentrating very heavily on bettering the rights of women and girls, as well as developing the country into a constitutional state. All of the traditional issues such as rural areas, development, education and livelihood creation will certainly be on the agenda,” she adds.
In search of reliable partners
Ensuring that aid reaches those who need it in Afghanistan is a challenge – one that Hautala believes that so far Finland been successful in meeting.
“Finland is quite good at finding the kind of targets, through international organisations, for instance, that we can consider reliable. Still, it remains clear that Afghanistan is one of the most difficult operational environments,” she observes.
Hautala, who has held the development portfolio for a year, has formerly led the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Finnish Parliament’s Committee of Legal Affairs and the Green League.