Plassnik: "EU-Africa: Promising partnership on equal terms"
Ouagadougou, 13 November 2007 - "Africa is Europe’s closest neighbour and an important partner for the future. Our relationship is based on a partnership on equal terms. This is also expressed by the joint EU-Africa strategy which we advanced considerably during Austria’s EU Chairmanship and which will be adopted at our summit in Lisbon on 8 and 9 December", said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik yesterday at the conference "Peace and Security in West Africa", which she organized in Ouagadougou together with her colleague from Burkina Faso, Drjibrill Bassolé. The participants also included Mohamed Chambas, Executive Secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and Gomes Cravinho, State Secretary of the Portuguese Foreign Ministry.
"We intend to work with our neighbour Africa as efficiently as possible, thereby underscoring the importance and the future potential of this continent. The joint EU-Africa Strategy is a great step in our efforts toward a common African policy", said the Foreign Minister. The EU-Africa Strategy will give coherence to cooperation in four different areas: In human security, trade, development, and, as a common and binding element, in good governance, human rights, and the rule of law - "the values that EU regards as the foundation of sustainable development", said the Foreign Minister.
"This new partnership is a new and demanding development, both on our side and on the African side. If you want to be treated as a partner, you have to be able to act as a partner. Therefore, we support the development of independent skills in Africa. We want to help our African partners on an individual and on a regional level, so as to enhance their own responsibility. This is a central element of our cooperation", said Plassnik.
"Europe has a demanding yet unique set of measures for sustainable development. The objective is to develop long-term structures that are viable and bring peace and development. I am convinced that our partners in Africa have the patience and persistence to cope with what the EU is offering them", said the Foreign Minister.
"Africa is rich in talented people. Wisdom demands that we make use of this potential. Therefore, our cooperation will focus in particular on development and work opportunities, especially for young people. There is a need to develop perspectives for the future in this respect", said Plassnik. This is why the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Kandeh Yumkella participated at the conference. He has made a series of proposals on how the EU and Africa can become active together on this issue. "Especially the issue of migration clearly demonstrates that Africa is not a distant continent. What happens in Africa affects us - quite legitimately and quite directly", said the Foreign Minister.
At the end of the conference, the participants adopted the "Resolution of Ouagadougou", containing concrete proposals for intensifying cooperation, which will also be considered at the EU-Africa summit. The conference also decided on cooperation in the fight against climate change - the first step will involve the creation of a West African centre for renewable energies.Declaration of Ouagadougou
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