Finland

Official Name: Republic of Finland

Capital: Helsinki

Official Languages: Finnish and Swedish

Population: 5 503 000 (December 2016)

Size: 338 424 square kilometers

Currency: Euro

Form of Government: Republic

Head of State: President Sauli Niinistö

Head of Government: Prime Minister Juha Sipilä

Government

Finland is a presidential republic with parliamentary rule. The people rule through the representation of an elected parliament, Eduskunta, which is the legislative power. The government and the president share the executive power. The Finnish system is called a semi-presidential system or a dual executive – it is a parliamentary system crossed with a presidential system, which makes the government answerable to the parliament even though there is a president.

The presidential power replaced the role of the Russian Tsar in Finnish politics, and the president had great power. Today, the president has somewhat the same role as the monarchs in the constitutional monarchies. He or she is head of state and appoints the prime minister, but after recent constitutional changes, the president has limited power compared to for instance the French or the American presidents.

The president is elected by direct election done by secret paper ballot. The candidates for presidency have to hold Finnish citizenship and be native-born Finns. The office term is six years, and the president can be re-elected once. Finland has a unicameral parliament with 200 seats, and the last parliamentary election was held in 2011.

Diplomatic Relations

Finland opened a Liaison Office in Kabul in 2002 after the government had made a decision to participate in the reconstruction and peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan. As Afghanistan today is a sovereign independent state, with which Finland has normal diplomatic relations, it was deemed well-founded to establish an embassy in the country. Therefore the Liaison office was in the beginning of January 2006 converted into an Embassy, and Mr. Timo Oula was appointed Finnish Ambassador to Afghanistan.

Since 2015 Ms. Anne Meskanen has been Finland’s Ambassador to Afghanistan.

For more information on the Embassy of Finland to Afghanistan, please visit:
http://www.finland.org.af

Military Contribution

Finland is not a member of NATO, however still engaged in Afghanistan through the Partnership for Peace (PfP) program. This implies that Finland’s presence in the country is not related to Article 5 in the Atlantic Treaty, its presence is rather motivated by commitment to the UN and its mandate for peace and security, and finally by Finnish national interest. PfP is a symbol of the expressed shared values and interests of the Euro-Atlantic relationship, in contribution to credible national self-defence and security policy.

Finland has participated in ISAF since the launch of the operation, and is currently focusing its efforts in the Swedish-led PRT in Mazar e-Sharif, in the north of Afghanistan. Finland has withdrawn its contribution to the Civil Military (CIMIC) unit in Kabul. There are currently four civilian experts posted in the Finish Embassy. These experts include one police advisor, one political liaison officer and two development advisors, all of which help evaluate the needs for development projects and reconstruction efforts in the province. This arrangement is the same as in the other Nordic countries.
The Finnish military contribution amount to 100 troops and the maximum capacity at present time for the Finnish Armed Forces is 119 troops.
The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs expects that the military contribution to Finland will increase slightly in the next few years.

To learn more about the Finish military contribution, please visit:
http://formin.finland.fi/public/default.aspx?nodeid=32299&contentlan=2&culture=en-US

Afghans in Finland

In 2016 there were 5294 persons in Finland with Afghan citizenship.

For more statistics, visit Statistics Finland:

http://tilastokeskus.fi/tup/suoluk/suoluk_vaesto_en.html