Lisbon, 9 December 2007 Press release

Plassnik: "The partnership between the EU and Africa is a long-term project"


Lisbon, 9 December 2007 - "Yesterday’s models are outdated. What is now important is the future, a partnership based on equality. This is difficult to achieve - both for the EU and for our African partners. But both sides are highly motivated. Both want to develop successful cooperation together," stated Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik at the EU-Africa summit in Lisbon.

"We are meeting our African partners halfway, looking ahead and drawing from our own experience. We know what has united the EU, what has resulted in economic growth, prosperity and a secure basis of values: cooperation, respect for human rights and the observance of democratic standards. It is this experience, learned from a painful history, that we offer our African partners," stated Plassnik. "Good governance is a value that is not only indispensable from the political point of view; it also safeguards economic success in the medium term and in the long run. The rule of law is not an end in itself, but a necessary prerequisite in order to create predictability and reliability, both for the people in their own country and for international partners," continued Plassnik.

The Foreign Minister pointed out that since the first EU-Africa summit in Cairo in 2000 there had been a number of changes both on the African continent and within the EU: the African Union had been founded, and the EU had been enlarged by 12 new members. "Our partnership is a long-term project. Those who want to be treated as partners have to be able to act as partners. In Africa, things are not going to change from one day to the next. There is no all-round 'instant democracy' or fully comprehensive ‘instant implementation of human rights’. What is decisive, however, is the existence of long-term perspectives and the will to achieve them," stated Plassnik.

Together with her counterpart from Burkina Faso, Drjibill Bassolé, and the Commission President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mohamed Chambas, Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik also presented the results of the "Conference on Peace and Security in West Africa" held in November in Ouagadougou: "We want to find common strategies for common problems. Challenges such as migration, drug trafficking and climate change concern us all. To meet them effectively, we need a solid and strong partnership based on mutual responsibility," said the Foreign Minister. For instance, she added, the Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), Kandeh Yumkella, had made a number of proposals at the conference in Ouagadougou on how the EU and Africa could jointly create development opportunities and jobs, particularly for young people. The energy issue, too, was particularly important to developing countries: "In Ouagadougou we decided to establish a West African Centre for Renewable Energy as a first concrete step together with UNIDO," said Plassnik.

At the invitation of Foreign Minister Plassnik there was also a meeting of the International Women’s Network which was attended, among others, by the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, Ashe Rose Migiro, the Foreign Ministers of Sierra Leone, Zainab Hawa Bangura, Malawi, Joyce Banda, Mozambique, Alcinda Abreu, Guinea-Bissau, Maria da Conceicao Nobre Cabral, Liberia, Olubanke King Akerele, Hungary, Kinga Göncz, and Liechtenstein, Rita Kieber-Beck, and the Development Ministers of Sweden and Denmark, Gunilla Carlsson and Ulla Tornaes. One of the priority topics at the meeting were measures to strengthen women’s participation in business and political life.

"We shall continue to build our networks with patience and imagination. A major part of Africa’s colourfulness and energy lies in its women. It is imperative that we make their contribution more visible," concluded Plassnik.

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