Tripoli, 29 November 2010 Press release

Spindelegger: “Economic cooperation is at the core of EU-Africa partnership”

Foreign Minister participates in EU-Africa summit in Libya

Tripoli, 29 November 2010 – “A partnership with the African continent makes it possible to jointly discuss and advance a number of crucial issues of the future. They include, for instance, the effects of climate change, conflict prevention, alleviation of poverty, good governance and the topic of migration”, emphasised Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger today at the third Africa-EU summit in Tripoli.

“Today, African states are no longer merely exporters of raw materials or simple export markets. On the contrary, they have become Europe’s partner in important issues relating to the future”, said Spindelegger. “We must not persist in ways of thinking which belong to the past. I advocate even closer collaboration in the future in order to be able to take common challenges, such as the implementation of infrastructure projects or the development of an energy market which meets the requirements of both continents”, continued the Foreign Minister. In this context Spindelegger referred to Africa’s key role in the solution of challenges revolving around the question of migration. Mutual relations would have to be based on mutual respect and benefit both sides. The core of partnership was economic cooperation. “Africa is a new economic front which has to be explored and developed”, stated Spindelegger.

As an economic and trading partner, Africa is becoming increasingly interesting to the EU. For Africa, the EU is still its most important trading partner. The African continent has achieved high growth rates for a number of years now. This has mostly been due to the high prices that African states have obtained for exporting raw materials such as oil, aluminium, copper and gold.

At the summit, the Austrian Foreign Minister will particularly focus on such important issues as energy security and climate change. “Sustainable energy solutions are at the core of a successful reduction of poverty and ‘green economics’. Austrian enterprises, in particular, are among the market leaders in the field of ‘green energy”, underlined the Foreign Minister. “We shall continue the contacts we have established with the African energy sector, and intensify them in the implementation of practical projects.”

The EU-Africa summit, which is the third of its kind, is devoted to the overarching theme of Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation. The agenda contains a total of six sub-themes: security and peace, infrastructure, energy, climate change, Millennium Goals as well as agriculture and food security. It is also planned to have the joint Africa-EU Strategy, which was adopted by the last summit in Lisbon in 2007, substantiated by a Second Action Plan for the years 2011-2013. In this process the EU attaches special importance to such themes as good governance and human rights.

“Human rights constitute a universal asset which we must preserve, strengthen and defend. Both the European Union and the African Union will therefore adopt these values as the core of their joint strategy. An open discussion of human rights is one of the major challenges of future cooperation, just like peace, security, climate change, migration and development”, concluded Spindelegger.

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