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Foreign Minister Timo Soini. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

Foreign Minister Timo Soini will make a series of visits to Finnish schools. The aims of the visits are to enhance upper secondary school students’ knowledge of what foreign policy actions Finland is taking in order to prevent violent radicalization and to try to make the youth more critical towards radicalization. “Conflicts lay a fertile breeding ground for radicalization and mediation is a means to resolve them. Sustainable peace may be achieved only by involving all parties in the discussion, including women, youth and different ethnic and religious groups,” Soini said.

The series of school visits will start in connection with the Ahtisaari Days on November 16 from the Tikkurila upper secondary school in Vantaa. Soini will continue the visits later this year and next year. The seventh annual mediation event, the Ahtisaari Days, will be held in November. Soini has marked the Ahtisaari Days every year by paying visits to schools.

The purpose of the Ahtisaari Days is to raise awareness of mediation at all levels in society. Young people become aware of conflicts in one way or another. Wars in different parts of the world come close through many channels, not to speak about the media, and we all face disagreement in our daily lives.  The aim is to make mediation and conciliation a part of everyone’s daily life. The Ahtisaari Days are, therefore, a natural choice for a kick-off event of school visits focusing on violent radicalization.

The Ahtisaari Days are named after the former Finnish president, Martti Ahtisaari, who after his presidency worked as a peace mediator and is credited for resolving a long-running dispute between Kosovo and Serbia. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today

During the visits, Soini will talk not only about mediation but also about four other foreign policy matters, in which foreign and security policy is used to prevent and fight radicalization. These are active human rights policy, empowerment of youth and women, poverty reduction and crisis management. “In the implementation of its foreign policy, Finland works in many significant ways to prevent violent radicalization. Young people everywhere in the world play an important role in this work. I therefore want to speak about this matter particularly with them. First here in Finland, but also abroad.”

Radicalization is a process in which an individual assumes more and more violent extremist political, social or religious views. Violent radicalization refers to using, threatening with, encouraging or justifying violence based on one’s own view of the world or on ideological grounds.  There are always several reasons for radicalization. Factors that may lead to radicalization are associated with individuals, their situation in life and society. A sense of social exclusion, discrimination and racism are mentioned among the most important underlying factors. “In a society where everybody feels integrated, the risk of radicalization diminishes. It is important to create favorable horizons for young people in particular. Meaningful activities and a source of income are the best tools for reducing violent radicalization,” said Soini.

Source: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland