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Minister Heidi Hautala of Finland visits Morocco and Tunisia
Minister for International Development Heidi Hautala will travel to Morocco and Tunisia on 4-8 March. The purpose of the trip is to get acquainted with the current situation and the democratic development in these countries and to review the cooperation between Finland and these countries. Women’s rights are one of the special themes of the visit. During her visit, Minister Hautala will meet ministers and civil society representatives.
In Tunisia, Hautala will participate in a conference concerning establishment of Nissa TV, a common television channel of Europe and the Mediterranean countries, as one of the main speakers of the event. Nissa TV is a pioneering initiative for strengthening women’s status and opportunities to influence.
Minister Hautala’s visit takes place at an interesting time with a view to the development of Morocco and Tunisia. The ‘Arab Spring’, which began in Tunisia early in 2011, introduced a new era in North Africa, where leaders with a long history of autocratic rule were removed from power and democratic development of the region began.
Finland supports the development of North African countries and these countries’ endeavours to promote democracy, strong civil society, equality, good governance, freedom of speech and human rights. Particular emphasis is placed on strengthening the status of women. With Tunisia, Finland is in the process of launching cooperation in the field of police training.
Finland’s assistance to the region is mainly channeled through international organisations and projects implemented by financing institutions. At the country-specific level, projects with NGOs conducted by foreign missions and facilitated by local cooperation play a central role. Finnish assistance to North Africa and the Middle East totals approximately EUR 30 million in 2012–2015.