The West Has Failed, Finnish President Says on Situation in Afghanistan

Friday, 20 August, 2021 - 00:28

According to Sauli Niinistö, the Taliban* takeover is potentially fraught with another wave of refugees coming to Europe, as well as Afghanistan once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists.

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö sees the Taliban's rapid conquest of Afghanistan as a sign of failure on the part of the West, which did not succeed in building a democratic government and a democratic society in the country.

"The lesson we must learn from this is that it is quite difficult to introduce a completely new social structure and social thinking to another place. It takes many generations", Niinistö said in an interview with national broadcaster Yle.

Niinistö refused to comment on whether he sees entering Afghanistan in 2001 or leaving it now in 2021 as a mistake, emphasising instead that bringing about change in society is more difficult than previously thought.

"I would not [like to] talk about mistakes. The conclusion is that it was a goal that was not achieved. From the beginning, there was a belief that everything would go in a good direction. Now we are faced with the truth that it is very difficult to change an entire country", Niinistö said.

Niinistö emphasised that the Taliban movement was constantly active in Afghanistan and was well prepared.

According to the president, the immediate consequence of the situation in Afghanistan will be a likely wave of refugees leaving the country. However, Niinistö mused that it is still impossible to make accurate predictions about their numbers and destinations.

"So we must take a stand on the question of how many refugees Finland and Europe can receive so that good integration can be achieved", Niinistö said with a likely reference to the migrant crisis of 2015, when Europe received 1.2 million asylum seekers in a single year, the highest since World War II.

Another relevant issue, according to Niinistö, is what stance the Taliban will assume after coming to power.

"During their previous reign, they stayed in Afghanistan and seemed content with it, but at the same time offered terrorists a shelter. If the same line continues, the effect can radiate across the globe", he concluded.
US President Joe Biden acknowledged that the Taliban's storming of Kabul and the fall of the Afghan government "did unfold more quickly than we anticipated", but stressed that he didn't regret the decision to withdraw US troops. By contrast, former US President Donald Trump has joined the chorus of politicians blasting the timing of the pullout.

*The Taliban is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other countries.