On the 5th of October, the Helsinki Policy Forum (HPF) met in Helsinki. Participants came from the foreign ministries of Finland, France, Germany, Iraq, Ireland, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. They were updated on the work of the HPF’s Health Working Group, which met for the first time in September, and the Environment, Energy and Economic Working Group, held on the 4th of October.

Discussion then turned to regional developments and opportunities for cooperation. Participants discussed the long-term aspiration for security cooperation and dialogue between countries in Europe and the MENA region. While concerns surround the ongoing situations in Lebanon, Libya, Syria and with the Middle East Peace Process, participants also supported opportunities for dialogue, such as the Baghdad talks, which should be endorsed regionally and internationally.

It was felt that the HPF, established in 2014, remains a useful space to build confidence, reduce tension, and strengthen cooperation between Europe and the MENA region.