This publication is the result of many years of interactions and debates between Finnish and Palestinian scholars, officials, diplomats, religious figures, media and civil society representatives, culminating in a two-day workshop, which was held on 22-23 November 2008 in Jericho. The workshop was organized and hosted jointly by PASSIA, the Finnish Institute in the Middle East, and the Finnish Representative Office in Ramallah – which was celebrating its 10th anniversary at the time. The seminar discussed the history and future of the Palestinian-Finnish relations as well as Palestinian internal politics and the prospects of the peace process.
Once Finland, a member of the European Union since 1995, held its first Presidency of the EU in the second half of 1999, the Middle East Peace Process figured very prominently on the EU agenda. Henceforth, it was deemed appropriate to establish and maintain closer ties to the Palestinian Authority and civil society in order to gain better insight into the development in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The Finnish Representative Office was also accredited to handle relations towards Palestinian refugees through UNRWA. However, these missions could not have been concretized without the unremitting communication between the Finnish Representative Office and Palestinian NGOs, including PASSIA.
PASSIA’s relations with the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thus, goes way back, since the establishment of the Representative Office in Ramallah ten years ago. Without a doubt, the professionalism and quality of interaction between the two have contributed to the documentation of Palestinian unfolding history in many of PASSIA’s publications, which helped enriching our library, and continuous to do so. Our work through bilateral meetings and during different international fora deepened our mutual relations and promoted dialogue between our two people.
During the joint workshop in November 2008, more than 50 participants – spanning UN, EU, Finnish and Palestinian institutions, among others – were joining analytical intellect and joyful meetings. The event brought together experts with a wide range of field specialization speaking on pertinent issues and contributing to this work.
Through this publication – containing the proceedings of the said workshop – we hope to share our fruitful debates and experiences on Finnish-Palestinian relations with the wider audience.
Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi
Chairman of PASSIA