Sinikka Antila appointed EU Ambassador to Namibia
Ambassador Sinikka Antila has been appointed to serve as Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Namibia starting from 11 September 2019.Sinikka Antila. Photo: Petri Krook/MFA
. Namibia is a familiar place to Antila, as she worked at the Finnish Embassy in Windhoek in 1998–2003, first as Development Cooperation Counsellor and later as Chargé d'Affaires ad interim. During her career, Antila has served in various tasks in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, mainly in the area of development policy, for example as Ambassador in Zambia in 2007 –2011 and in Tanzania in 2011 –2015.
As Head of the Delegation of the European Union, her job description is much like that of an ambassador of Finland. Instead of a Member State, the Head of the EU Delegation represents the whole European Union and serves its interests. Working with EU delegations is familiar to Antila.
“As representatives of Finland in the world, we have been involved in the political work of EU heads and in coordinating development cooperation,” says Antila and stresses the importance of cooperation with other EU delegations. “It is very important that the EU acts uniformly and that we do as much as possible together, whether it is development cooperation, political dialogue or commercial relations.”
Representing the EU requires learning, starting from computer systems, as Antila has previously represented a Member State. “Luckily, there is a good team that I hope will help the chief.”
Namibia is no longer one of the poorest developing countries, but the country still faces challenges with regard to the economy and employment. The economy should be mobilised, its structure should be diversified, and jobs increased in the private sector.
Education and agriculture are among the priorities of the EU's activities in Namibia. Antila's latest job as Trade and Development Ambassador in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs makes her well prepared for her work in Namibia. “I will complement the experience that the EU Delegation already has and I hope I will be able to take these matters forward and this way implement the objectives of the EU's investment programme and the alliance between the EU and Africa.”
Antila is happy to go back to Namibia. “Namibia is a beautiful, excellent country that I roamed thoroughly [the last time I was there]. I know the country well and there are also familiar decision-makers, even the President.”
In addition to Antila, only four other Finns represent or have represented the EU in the world. Pirkka Tapiola serves in Bangkok, prior to which he was the Head of the EU Delegation in Moldova. Timo Olkkonen is the Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Zimbabwe. Jari Vilén served as the Head of the EU delegation in Strasbourg until August last year and Marjaana Sall in Mauritius until summer 2019.