African-Nordic foreign ministers’ meeting

Thursday November 7 2019

President, John Magufuli shake hands with

President, John Magufuli shake hands with Elisabeth Jacobsen, the Norwegian Ambassador to Tanzania in this file photo. The Nordic-Africa meeting takes place in Dar es Salaam this week. PHOTO | FILE 

By Mette Nørgaard Dissing-Spandet

The Nordic countries – Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden – enjoy excellent relations with Tanzania, dating back to pre-independence.

The strong bonds are further manifested this week when four Nordic Ministers for Foreign Affairs are visiting Tanzania to participate in the 18th African-Nordic Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 7-8 November. The Africa-Nordic Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is an important annual forum for informal and open-minded discussions between African and Nordic countries.

The format was initiated in 2001 and has served as a platform for dialogue on peace and security, international trade and economic development based on democracy, human rights and good governance.

The informal setting has always been the hallmark of these meetings, allowing Foreign Ministers to exchange views and deliberate on policies to address common challenges.

Over the years, leaders have come together and strengthened the ties and the relationships between Nordic and African countries.

Together, the Nordic and African countries have an important say in shaping the world of tomorrow for the benefit of our populations.

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The international rules-based order is increasingly under pressure. If we are to solve the greatest challenges of our time, we need more, not less multilateral cooperation. Global issues such as climate change, weapons of mass destruction and communicable diseases go beyond what any single state can manage.

The complexity of modern-day security threats, such as the spreading of violent extremism, calls for new approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

We live in a world that is smaller than ever before. A world where our futures are bound together like no other time in human history.

An unpredictable world, where the growing interdependency of nations and people has made international cooperation more necessary than ever before.

Hence, the upcoming Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is an important opportunity to engage in a substantive dialogue between our countries on how to work together to strengthen UN-led multilateral cooperation with the aim to find common solutions.

There is potential for increased African-Nordic cooperation related to multilateral issues and our historical ties provide a good foundation for deepening our discussions.

As our respective foreign ministers are on their way to Tanzania, we are reminded of the rich history we share.

During the freedom struggle in Southern Africa, Tanzania together with the Nordic countries came to play a critical role, in various ways, which eventually led to independence.

Development cooperation has featured prominently in our relations and it continues to do so.

Today, political dialogue as well as trade and investment are important drivers in our relations, with many Nordic companies being active in Tanzania. The Nordic countries are characterized by common ideas and values and we have a long tradition of working closely together at home and abroad.

We are an integrated region where we can study, travel, work and start businesses in each other’s countries.

Gender equality and welfare are part of the fabric of our societies and go hand in hand with core values such as openness, trust, innovation and sustainability.

The Nordic region is an example of how these values, together with strong multilateral cooperation, have resulted in thriving, peaceful and stable democracies. Regional integration and cooperation have been key for the Nordic countries.

We do not claim to have the one model that suits all, but we are delighted to share our experience on how we have been able to develop and nurture this process over the years. We appreciate Tanzania’s willingness to host this meeting.

Tanzania has a special place in Nordic history and political life and our hope is that this meeting will strengthen these ties further. The Nordic countries remains committed to our cooperation for sustainable, peaceful, democratic and inclusive development.

Mette Nørgaard Dissing-Spandet is the ambassador of Denmark to Tanzania. He co-wrote this article with Riitta Swan, ambassador of Finland to Tanzania; Elisabeth Jacobsen, ambassador of Norway to Tanzania and Anders Sjöberg, ambassador of Sweden to Tanzania