A month after taking office, Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto has been asked to negotiate on behalf of the European Union in the Sudan crisis.
On Wednesday, Haavisto is to begin an eight-day tour of the Red Sea region, starting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. There he will hold talks with Ethiopian and African Union leaders.
The following day, he will travel to Khartoum, where he is to meet members of the Transitional Military Council and the opposition Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) among others.
Last week the FFC reached a power-sharing deal with the military ruling council after a week-long standoff over the army’s role in the transition. Under the deal, the FFC is to name the country’s next prime minister.
On 16-18 July Haavisto is to visit Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAR. After his trip, Haavisto will brief the 28 ministers in EU's Foreign Affairs Council.
Broad experience in region
Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, has mandated Haavisto "to reach out, on behalf of the European Union, on both the situation in the country and on how the international community can accompany Sudan on its transition path," the Finnish Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday afternoon.
"Thanks to his experience in the region, in particular in Sudan with both the EU and the UN, Minister Haavisto will explore how the EU can best support Sudan in its path towards democracy, respect for human rights and stability," the ministry quotes Mogherini as saying.
Haavisto served as EU Special Representative for Sudan and Darfur in 2005-07 and as Special Advisor for the UN Assistant Secretary-General in the Darfur Peace Process in 2007, along with other EU and UN missions.
At home he has previously been an environment minister, Greens chair and second-round presidential candidate.
While he is away, Helsinki will host a meeting of EU environment ministers, hosted by Finland's Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Krista Mikkonen, also of the Greens. The two-day meeting gets underway on Wednesday evening at Finlandia Hall.
The conference is part of Finland's six-month EU presidency term, which began on 1 July.