Foreign Minister Meets African and Nordic Ministers Skip to content

Foreign Minister Meets African and Nordic Ministers

Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson attended an annual consultative meeting last weekend with colleagues from the Nordic and several African countries, as announced in a press release from the Minstry of Foreign Affairs.

The annual consultative meeting was held in Hämeenlinnain, Finland.

gunnar_bragi_og_stefan_fule_2013
Gunnar Bragi with Stefan Fule earlier this month.

A total of 11 ministers from the African continent were in attendance. They came from Benin, Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Mali, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zambia, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania.

The topics discussed were diverse ranging from economic to human rights issues, including the Nordic welfare model in an age of economic restriction, ways to ensure economic growth while maintaining the goal of equality, and how to promote peace in African countries where warfare prevails.

Nordic cooperation is the cornerstone of Iceland’s foreign policy and Gunnar Bragi expressed his satisfaction in that his first meeting with the Nordic ministers included delegates from African countries.

In spite of many challenges, good news continues to be delivered from the African continent where economic and social development, democracy and human rights are on the rise, he said, and new opportunities of cooperation between the Nordic and African countries have arisen.

Gunnar Bragi emphasized how urgent it is to create economic growth once more and avoid loss in human capital in the restricted economic environment of today, and that the Icelandic government is responding to these challenges in the beginning of a new term.

He stated the positive economic growth and better quality of life in African countries is a good reason to celebrate, and that Iceland will be an active participant in the war against poverty and inequality worldwide.

During the meeting, discussions concerning human rights issues took place and the minister was especially pleased with the debates concerning gay rights, as the dialogue was open and frank, he stated.

The Nordic countries’ rich emphasis on matters such as gay rights, open dialogue, understanding and tolerance was diligently noted.

This is the 12th such consultative meeting. The first one was held in 2001 at the initiative of the then Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh. The purpose the meeting serves is to create an environment where informal dialogue can take place regarding issues such as foreign policy, challenges within the field of politics and to exchange views on the issues at hand in the international arena.

The meetings are held biannually in a Nordic country and biannually in an African country.

JB

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