SILKROAD REVISITED – Finnish Development and Security Research Today in Central Asia

 “The concept of security is understood broadly also in EU Strategy for Central Asia. On top of all activities in the area are human security, human rights and good governance – very strategic issues, indeed”, minister Hautala said at the seminar SILKROAD REVISITED – Finnish Development and Security Research Today in Central Asia in Helsinki on 13 February 2013.[:]



Dear friends, ladies and gentlemen,

It is a great honour and pleasure for me to welcome you all to this seminar.

First off, let me thank the chair Ms. Päivi Lipponen and Committee for the Future of the Parliament in co-organizing this seminar, and for giving me the opportunity to say a few words on behalf of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

As many of you know, this conference is a closing seminar of security and research projects financed through the so called Wider Europe Initiative. It is a compilation of development projects that Finland is supporting since 2009 in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia. In the future, focus will be on Central Asia.

Security is one of the key themes of the Wider Europe Initiative. Therefore, a cluster of research institutes was created to promote activities that bolster and maintain security.

The main goal has been to highlight a broad concept of security that underlines the connection between security and development.

Especially in Central Asia, we can talk about a kind of nexus of security and development. They are interlinked concepts that also reinforce each other.

The concept of security is understood broadly also in EU Strategy for Central Asia. On top of all activities in the area are human security, human rights and good governance – very strategic issues, indeed.

What we have done now in the region and will do in the future is also aligned and complement the measures taken by the European Union.

Important goals of these projects have also been to increase dialogue and networking between researchers and research institutions, and also to engage in activities that inspire confidence in the region.

Through this work we have sought to promote widespread stability and wellbeing in partner countries, as development cannot occur without stability. A further goal is to increase knowledge and understanding within the target region.

Let’s now turn to the actual projects:
Eight different Security and Development Research projects have been/will be concluded before the end of this year with a total amount of 2,5 million euros.

The selected Finnish academic institutes (Aleksanteri Institute, Karelian Institute, Tampere Peace Research Institute, Pan European Institute, University of Eastern Finland and Aalto University) have built partnerships with the local institutes with the aim of building longer term networks and carrying out policy relevant research.

The relevant policy issues tackled by the research have ranged from good governance and human rights to environmental security and disputes over water resources.

As shown by the recent evaluation, the security and development research projects have been implemented effectively, and achieved early impacts. Research institutes have bolstered their research profile and added to staff expertise. Further, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has been able to draw on the results of policy relevant research.
Outputs have included e.g. publications, conferences, networking among Finnish institutions and between Finland and the region, as well as outreach to academic and policy audiences in the EU and globally.

I was happy to learn that impacts have also been felt among the beneficiary country participants. However, the sustainability and full impact of these interventions depend on the extent to which the institutions concerned will be able to maintain the momentum.

I hope that even though we are concluding this funding here there will be no end to the continued interest and activity in this area.

The Finnish development policy has as its guiding principle the human rights based approach to development. The rule of law, democracy, human rights, good governance and sustainable development play a key role in our future regional development cooperation.

In our thinking, social stability and comprehensive security are the cornerstones for development. Strengthening of the local research capacities through cooperation will add to security, stability and development in Central Asia. The established networks provide a good academic base for the future research in and of the area.

In line with Finland’s future regional Development Policy Programme, Finland will focus its support in Wider Europe Initiative to Central Asia and its least developed countries Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. This is also reflected in the topics of today’s seminar.

Today, we have an excellent opportunity to learn more about this complexity of issues and how it affects Central Asia. The ancient Silk Road which once brought prosperity to the area can be revived in today’s sense. As a new roadmap, tackling these challenging issues through research is in the heart of building a new way for a stable, equal and prosperous future of Central Asia.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have followed the developments in the area with a great interest, also in my previous post in the European Parliament.
It seems that Turkmenistan is at some ways opening up; for example the UN special rapporteur on right to education has been able to visit the country. I was happy to learn that Turkmenistan has identified the Finnish education system to learn from.

However, there are still great concerns in this area. It is evident that that human rights, good governance and rule of law are elements that have to be included in all our work in the area.

For example the company TeliaSonera has come to deep problems due to questions of corruption in Uzbekistan. It seems that the company has not been following its own code of conduct there. In Sweden, there is a criminal investigation on this going on. This is again a clear example of how human rights, good governance and enabling business should go hand in hand.

To finish up, I am very happy to note many of our partners here today, international guests and students. I hope this event will raise our awareness on security and development nexus in Central Asia. By joint efforts and sharing good practices change is possible also in a complex security environment.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs wants to thank all research parties for valuable cooperation.

Next, I look forward to the presentations and discussion based on these important and interesting themes!

Thank you!