It is a great pleasure to participate in this conference convened as a result of the breakthrough in the Middle East peace process.
Finland admires the courage shown by the parties.
We greatly value the untiring efforts of the United States and Russia, the co-sponsors, in promoting a peaceful resolution of the
Middle East conflict. And it is with particular appreciation that we recognize the recent contribution of Norway, a fellow Nordic
country, to the peace process.
We hope that the Israeli-Palestinian Declaration of Principles will prove to be a historic turning point in the Middle East, paving the
way for a comprehensive peace settlement.
Similar bold steps are now needed by all the parties. One such step is the Common Agenda, signed by Israel and Jordan, which identifies
the main elements in the negotiations between these two countries.
Peace must generate a peace dividend. Reconstruction in the areas to be brought under Palestinian self-government should be supported by the international community without delay.
Finland, together with the other Nordic countries, has decided to participate in such efforts by providing financial assistance for economic development programs in the areas under Palestinian self-government.
For this purpose Finland intends to contribute 40 million Finnish marks, equivalent to about 7 million US dollars. Part of this amount
will be channeled through the Trust Fund to be administered by the World Bank.
The Multilateral Working Groups, an integral part of the Peace Talks, have provided a useful framework for the planning of future cooperation. They have also offered a way for extra-regional parties to become constructively involved.
The participants of this conference and other interested parties should give careful consideration to the needs of coordination that
will arise as countries, groups of countries, international organizations and institutions increase their activities and assistance.
Our aim should be maximum efficiency and our yardstick the well-being of the inhabitants of the region.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.