April 13th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Former Finnish president discusses poverty and youth

The Yale center for the Study of Globalization, led by former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, hosted 2008 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari Tuesday.

Ahtisaari spoke about the current political situation in the Middle East and North Africa, linking it to poverty and youth unemployment in the region.

“We have seen a political tsunami striking North Africa,” Ahtisaari said.“Nobody knows what this means in the long term.”

Low employment rates among youth have directly contributed to the situation, Ahtisaari said, adding that this trend is at the root of much of the poverty in Egypt, Yemen and Libya. The youth in these countries now burden the economy rather than contributing to it, he said, and because they are without any viable options or employment, “become a recruiting ground for criminal and terrorist organizations.”

Ahtisaari emphasized that Islam need not hinder economic progression and decision-making, adding that Muslim Turkey, which is increasingly secular, sets an example worth emulating.

With the global community increasingly integrated and connected in the modern era, the revolution in the Middle East is likely to have long-term effects, Ahtisaari said.

When asked whether the current revolution in the Middle East is dependent on the economic crisis, Ahtisaari said he doesn’t believe the financial melt-down is the cause of youth unemployment.

Ahtisaari has led humanitarian missions and helped resolve violent disputes involving religion and race in the former Yugoslavia, Namibia, Indonesia, Iraq and many other areas.