World’s leading peacemakers gathered in Helsinki: “Finnish commitment to peace increases”

Former presidents of Finland and Namibia Martti Ahtisaari and Hifikepunye Pohamba. Photo: Tatu Blomqvist
Former presidents of Finland and Namibia Martti Ahtisaari and Hifikepunye Pohamba. Photo: Tatu Blomqvist

 

The National Dialogues Conference brought the world’s leading peacemakers to Helsinki for the third time.

Regional and local influences in dialogue processes formed an important part of the agenda in the third National Dialogues Conference HELD at the House of Estates in Helsinki on April 5th-6th. The conference was organised by CMI, Finn Church Aid, Felm and Common Space Initiative.

The event provided an ideal opportunity for stakeholders, experts and support actors to exchange ideas and experiences from various contexts.

“I think it’s important just to have that space where those who practice and work with national dialogues can meet each other and imagine what needs to be done in the future”, says Antti Pentikäinen, director of The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

Pentikäinen says that the conference is an illustration of Finland’s commitment to peace building.

“I think that Finnish ownership and commitment to peace work is gradually increasing in the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the NGO sector, and I’m very happy about it.”

Ahtisaari and Pohamba reunite again

Former president of Namibia Hifikepunye Pohamba. Photo: Tatu Blomqvist

One of the highlights of the conference was when the former Presidents of Finland and Namibia, Martti Ahtisaari and Hifikepunye Pohamba shared their experiences from the liberation of Namibia.

The two men know each other since the 1970’s. At that time the UN laid out its first plan for the independence of Namibia, and the friendship was instant due to mutual respect, said Ahtisaari.

The work of Ahtisaari and Pohamba culminated in Namibia’s independence in 1990.

“The Finns have shaped Namibia’s future a great deal”, said Pohamba.

When asked about what kind of qualities are required from a successful peace mediator, Ahtisaari concluded that a mediator has to be “stubborn as a mule”. Pohamba echoed this, and said that “you need to sit many times and discuss, again and again”.

“Internal conflicts cannot be solved by people outside the country, but by people within the country.”

 FCA is the secretariat of The Network for Religious and Traditional Peacemakers.

Read more about the meeting between Ahtisaari and Pohamba on CMI’s website.