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Finland commends Nobel Peace Prize winner

Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto says Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed is highly deserving of the award.

Abiy Ahmed
Prime Minister of Ethiopia Abiy Ahmed Image: Thomas Lohnes / EPA

Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has applauded the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize of 2019 to Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.

"He is a driver of efforts to open up his country and has influenced things in many ways. Ethiopia's relations with its neighbour Eritrea are now better," the foreign minister said.

Haavisto said that in addition to re-establishing communication lines with Eritrea, Abiy Ahmed has played a significant role in the recent peace process in Sudan.

"He supported the groups of people that were the first to march in the streets and demand change. He also supported the peace process that took place over the summer, in which the military officials and the populace agreed to form a joint interim administration," he said.

"He is very dynamic"

Haavisto has visited the east African countries of Eritrea and Ethiopia dozens of times and says he knows the Ethiopian prime minister personally.

"I have met him several times. He is very dynamic and represents a younger generation of African leaders that have done very much in the area," he said.

The Finnish foreign minister said Abiy Ahmed has also had an outsized influence in the development of the continent as a whole.

"If you think about the transformation processes in the major countries of Africa, such as Ethiopia and Sudan, then in this respect Africa is changing because of him," Haavisto commented.

Pekka Haavisto
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto Image: Photo Edijs / EPA

The Nobel Committee said in a statement that there are still tensions between ethnic groups in Ethiopia that could flare up violently. The committee justified its decision by saying that Abiy Ahmed's efforts deserve recognition and need encouragement at this time.

According to Haavisto, the stability of the situation must be monitored.

"In Ethiopia, too, there were unfortunately attacks on politicians in the summer that undermined the country's development. Peace can easily be shaken if you're not willing to work for it," he said.

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