Vienna, 8 November 2007 - "The aim of our conference in Ouagadougou is to take advantage of the valuable West African experience for conflict settlement in the future," said Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik prior to the conference starting on Monday that she has organised together with her counterpart in Burkina Faso, Djibrill Yipènè Bassolé.
The conference entitled "Peace and security in West Africa", which is chaired by Plassnik and Bassolé, will also be attended by Youssouf Bakayoko, Foreign Minister of Côte d’Ivoire, Abdoul Kabèlé Camara, Foreign Minister of Guinea, Moussa Okanla, Foreign Minister of Benin, Crispin Grey-Johnson, Foreign Minister of The Gambia, Moctar Ouane, Foreign Minister of Mali, and Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Foreign Minister of Niger. The United Nations will be represented by UNIDO Director-General Kandeh Yumkella, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) by its Executive Secretary Mohamed Ibn Chambas.
"The initiative will shed light on the subject of 'sustainable peace' - the prerequisites for it, its various dimensions and the different experiences. West Africa has great experience in overcoming conflict situations and the reconstruction of societies and state structures. This wealth of experience needs to be shared better with partners in Africa itself and also to be integrated in the joint EU-Africa strategy," said the Foreign Minister. This conference would therefore also serve as a specifically Austrian contribution to preparations for the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon in December, added Plassnik. Other topics to be broached at the conference include neighbourhood policy, combating the proliferation of small arms and light ammunition, migration, improving the job situation for young people, and poverty reduction.
"On my travels I also meet continually with women with important functions in their regions so as to exchange experiences with them. I seek to strengthen women’s networks and to improve our mutual cooperation. Only through a concerted effort will we manage to ensure that women fully exploit their potential and make it useful to their societies," said Plassnik. The Foreign Minister is also meeting West African women in Burkina Faso in the run-up to the conference, including Joséphine Ouadraogo, representative of a Senegalese non-governmental organisation (ENDA), Yetunde Teriba from the African Union, Thoko Ruzvidzo from the African Centre for Gender and Social Development, and Cecile Mukarabuga from the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
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