EUAM Iraq Deputy Head of Mission Ms. Anne Meskanen joined the Mission in November 2020. Here she shares her interesting background and reflects her work in Baghdad.
Becoming a journalist was always Ms. Meskanen’s dream. She worked for many years as a political journalist and EU correspondent. After several part-time jobs she decided to apply to the Kavaku course (Finnish training course for future diplomats) and was accepted.
By this time, she has served as Finnish Ambassador to Afghanistan, Head of Mission at the Finnish Embassy in Kosovo, and Deputy Head of Mission at the Finnish Embassy in Damascus. In addition, Ms. Meskanen has worked at the Permanent Mission of Finland to the UN and at the Finnish Embassy in Romania.
Tell us about your daily work?
I have a habit of reading the Iraqi and international news every morning. My work requires a lot of coordination between different departments of the Mission.
I meet regularly with our national and international counterparts and coordinate activities with other EU Member States.
At present, I am excited about the opening of EUAM Iraq’s field office in Erbil. It will be an interesting challenge and I am looking forward to working together with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and central government in Baghdad.
How do you find working with the Iraqis?
I have visited Iraq several times during my long diplomatic career at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. Trust-building and public diplomacy take some time but once you have built a platform of trust, the cooperation is rather easy. Iraqis are extremely friendly and hospitable people. In general, I think working in challenging environments always requires flexibility, courage, and adaptability.
What has been the most rewarding or memorable experience for you in the Mission so far?
I am still rather new in the Mission but have received very warm welcome from all the mission members and the community here in our headquarters. I particularly enjoy hearing the songs of the Lebanese singer Fairuz played at the breakfast hall every morning.
If you could live anywhere, where would you choose?
I would probably divide my time between Lebanon, Cambodia, and Finland. I love the climate, food culture and people of Lebanon. I also have a 7-year-old Lebanese goddaughter. Cambodia is extremely interesting and exotic country with a difficult history. I would like to do voluntary work there in the future. My native Finland will always be my safe haven. I especially enjoy the winter sports back home.
What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?
I have gained a bronze medal in fishing championships in Finland.
What was the last gift you gave to someone?
I sent a donation to my goddaughter in Lebanon for her to buy new clothes for Ramadan celebrations.
What is your usual order at a restaurant?
Vietnamese Pho soup.
How do you relax?
I do sports such as running, and I also read a lot. In Finland, I like to go out with friends.