Alpha Konaré, Chairperson of the AU Commission,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to thank you most kindly for this invitation to the headquarters of the African Union. It is my pleasure to have this opportunity to speak to you today.
It is my conviction that the founding of the African Union was a historic step. Under the leadership of South Africa, Nigeria and now Ghana, the African Union has over the past five years become a central forum for the growing political identity of the African nations. It has moreover become an important partner for the international community. The further evolution of the African Union is thus of paramount importance for international cooperation. We would like a strong and functioning partner with whom we can work closely together in a spirit of friendship.
I would like to express my appreciation of the work done by President Kufuor as Chairman of the African Union and Mr Konaré as Chairperson of the Commission. You have enhanced the reputation and weight of the African Union throughout the world, and most especially in Europe.
I attach particular importance to my visit to Africa today as Federal Chancellor, not only because it is my first visit here, but because Germany has this year given special attention to your continent, under the auspices of its Presidencies of both the G8 and the European Union. My trip to visit the African Union, Ethiopia, South Africa and Liberia is a sign of this special interest.
And even without our presidencies, we in the Federal Republic of Germany naturally attach the utmost importance to German-African relations. Africa is at the heart of our development policy. The Federal Minister in charge of this is Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, a member of my delegation this week and a familiar face to many of you. The travels of the German Foreign Minister also illustrate that we consider Africa to be an extremely important partner in our foreign policy. Horst Köhler, the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, is a passionate supporter of Africa. In my opinion, the "Partnership for Africa" that he initiated will further strengthen dialogue with reform-minded groups on your continent.
I would also like to draw attention to the many members of the general public, the churches and numerous non-governmental organizations in Germany who are all deeply concerned about the fate of Africa. The fact that members of the German Bundestag from across the political spectrum are here with us today shows that the German parliament, too, is passionately concerned about the fate of Africa. We can thus say that many, many Germans campaign on a daily basis for the people and the future of Africa.
The G8, too, has increased its commitment to Africa over the years, and has contributed to the enhanced international interest in Africa. At this year's G8 Summit in Heiligendamm, we amicably discussed key questions of cooperation intensively with African Union representatives and African Heads of Government. We emphasized the fact that the partnership between the G8 and Africa is a partnership for reform. It is based on shared values such as respect for universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
This was also the signal we wanted to send with the "African Partnership Forum" held in Berlin under the auspices of our G8 Presidency. Of course, cooperation in a spirit of partnership means that it is the African states themselves which bear the responsibility for the necessary fundamental reforms on their continent. Cooperation with NEPAD will be particularly important. This is geared to concrete reforms, transparency and good governance.
The G8 states would like Africa to be able to seize the opportunities that globalization has to offer. That is why we affirmed our considerable commitment to the future of Africa at the Heiligendamm Summit and once again reaffirmed the far-reaching pledges made at Gleneagles. Germany will honour its pledges and will make available an extra three billion euro for development aid by 2011. This will benefit cooperation with Africa in particular.
Health was one of the priority areas discussed at Heiligendamm. The scale of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis on your continent is a human disaster. It is a brake on the development of entire states and societies. And above all, it means ineffable suffering for those afflicted and their families, for their friends and acquaintances. We thus have to improve the healthcare systems and make progress towards the goal of near-universal access to preventative measures, to medical treatment and to care. To this end, the G8 want to make available a total of over 60 billion US dollars in the coming years. Germany has stated its willingness to raise four billion euro by 2015.
The replenishment conference for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, held last week in Berlin, raised almost ten billion US dollars. This conference was chaired by our Development Minister. It was not all plain sailing, but in the end the amount pledged is encouraging. I would like to expressly state that in my opinion the Global Fund is a multilateral instrument that provides your countries with a very good opportunity to coordinate the relevant strategies with your local health systems, too. It was Kofi Annan who took the initiative to establish this Fund whilst he was still UN Secretary-General. I am very glad that the Fund has become a vital, genuine success story in so little time.
A few weeks ago I visited Japan. When there, I called wholeheartedly for the continuation and expansion of the G8's commitment to Africa during the upcoming Japanese Presidency of the G8. I believe that the 4th Tokyo International Conference on African Development next spring will be a key step forward.
It is not just Germany but the European Union as a whole that has an interest in a stable, democratic and prospering Africa. We are neighbouring continents. That is why the development of the African Union over the past years was also so important to the European Union. The African Union is an important partner for cooperation with us, and a significant player on the international stage. There are surely many things that we can shape together.
The Commissions of the European Union and African Union are already cooperating closely and successfully together on economic matters and development issues, as well as foreign and security policy. The European Union has supported this engagement with the so-called Peace Facility for the implementation of peace missions. This support will be continued, and the financial part raised once again.
Last year an EU mission supported the United Nations' MONUC mission and helped safeguard the elections in the Congo. The mission crucially contributed to ensuring that democratic elections could be held in the Congo for the first time in decades. A peaceful transition and a new start were thus achieved. Of course we are now attentively following further developments in the country. The Government of the Congo carries a huge responsibility for the respect of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. I therefore have no wish to deny that we are highly concerned by developments above all in the Kivu Provinces - in particular as regards the fate of women. We expect the government to take effective, rapid action to improve the situation of the people concerned.
Ladies and gentlemen, more than 50 percent of the development assistance for Africa is provided by the European Union and its member states. It is therefore naturally very important to us that development cooperation funds are spent in a sensible, targeted and efficient manner. Today, we have the opportunity to remodel cooperation between the African Union and the European Union. I call for a policy between the EU and Africa that goes well beyond classical development assistance as we know it from the past.
During the German Presidency we managed to lay down the outline for such a strategy, a new EU-Africa Strategy. Just like our hosts, I of course hope that we will indeed adopt this Strategy at the forthcoming Summit. This, in my opinion, is a vital step. The Strategy includes the classical development policy fields. But it also encompasses fields of bilateral interest, such as economics and migration, as well as global issues, such as the climate, energy and counter-terrorism. Finally, it also introduces a new dimension by involving civil society in all our member states. We do not want to limit our partnership to being a process between governments and institutions. We want to involve the people and foster understanding. Perhaps we should give special thought to how we can give young people in particular from Africa and the European Union the chance to get to know each other better.
With the Joint EU-Africa Strategy we will be able to put our relations on an equal footing - at least that is my conviction. I hope that this Strategy will indeed be adopted in December 2007. The EU-Africa Summit is, not to mince words, long overdue. It will be only the second meeting of its kind. I personally worked hard to help bring about this Summit. We have to succeed in raising our partnership to a qualitatively higher level in Lisbon. We will invite all African states to attend. However, we will not refrain from exchanging words of criticism where need be. Our partnership is strong enough to withstand them.
Our cooperation will be built on the premise that we will only be able to solve most of the problems and challenges ahead by working together - to establish stable, democratic and free political systems, fair and free world trade, reduce poverty and curb disease, prevent political radicalization, terrorism and civil war, slow climate change, protect our resources and livelihoods and make greater use of renewable energies. I see that our agendas are the same in many of these areas. The United Nations Millennium Declaration provides a framework for action that enjoys international legitimacy, having been adopted by the UN.
Climate protection is equally something we can only tackle together. It is one of the key challenges for all mankind, as was demonstrated yet again by the Climate Summit in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. We in the industrialized countries know that we have to meet ambitious emission-reduction targets and must of course help the developing countries pursue a similar route in the long term, so that sustainable development can become a reality. This will involve investment and technology transfer on an unprecedented scale. In the future, energy supplies will have to be based to a large extent on renewables such as solar and wind power. Africa must profit from these developments. We as industrialized nations must of course also support the countries of Africa in adapting to climate change, which is already making its impact felt, in some places dramatically.
I believe that this is both a moral obligation and a simple political necessity. If we do nothing, the price we will have to pay will be much, much higher. That is why we need a legally binding agreement under UN auspices for the years after 2012. We want to get the ball rolling at the Bali conference towards the end of the year. Let us work together, for the benefit of the generations that will come after us, on this truly important climate protection regime.
Ladies and gentlemen, globalization has altered our old familiar structures and shifted the traditional balance of power in the world. It is placing each and every one of our countries before new challenges. But it also offers huge opportunities. I am convinced that we politicians can shape globalization. Actively participating in globalization results in more growth and thereby also increases the chance of greater prosperity. Protectionism is inevitably linked to a reduction in growth. This is equally true for developing countries and industrialized countries. The World Bank's studies have recently corroborated this once again. For this reason, because we are all in the same boat, our interest in cooperation in a spirit of partnership is a mutual interest. I view this as an unprecedented historic chance.
On your continent, Africa, there has for some years now been a clear trend towards fewer conflicts, more democratic elections and peaceful changes of power. Economic growth has risen conspicuously in Africa, and not just in countries with natural resources. This growth is fostered by various factors including improved state action, macroeconomic stability and global demand for natural resources. Social conditions have thus improved, thanks to economic demand.
This positive trend has been driven by developments in Africa itself. I think it is fair to say that Africa is on the move. Africa is seeking its own way in the 21st century - a way to a democratic and politically stable Africa that assumes responsibility, applies the precautionary principle, settles conflicts on its own, strives for sustainable growth, is firmly integrated in the world economy, wants social justice and tries to reach a more equitable balance between rich and poor. This course has been visibly set in many of your countries.
A dynamic and sustainable economic upturn is of course also part of such a positive trend. It is my firm conviction that people on all continents and in all countries have the same economic and creative potential. It is therefore vital to establish favourable framework conditions, to remove obstacles and thereby help them realize their full potential. Better educational opportunities, more investment, more growth with an impact on employment - these are the crucial factors.
We have suggested to our G8 colleagues that we should set up a regional Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Fund for Africa. In our view, instruments to insure against local currency risks also need to be developed. We believe that this would boost the development of regional financial systems.
The economic potential of microcredit is very considerable. Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus attended a World Bank forum on African development in Berlin this May, and showed us again how he and his Grameen Bank helped prove a simple fact: poor people can be successful businesspeople, too. That is the experience of Muhammad Yunus.
Africa must move into the limelight as a destination for investment. But investors should not be interested solely in natural resources. What is needed is investment that fosters economic activity, advances structural change and, first and foremost, provides employment for the people of your countries.
I have also encouraged German business to become more active in Africa. In May I met with top German businesspeople and discussed the opportunities in Africa with them in great detail. I think that our perception of the continent is changing. Our Economics Minister will indeed be holding an investment conference with Africa in Germany at the end of the year.
But we need more than a shift in our perception. To pave the way for fair participation in international trade and new perspectives with greater growth and prosperity we also need the Doha development round to produce some results. I know that the representatives of Africa agree with me. We will do our utmost to make progress towards this goal. Agreements are however also in place between regional economic communities in Africa and the European Union. We should conclude more such agreements! For this is the only way in which we can put trade cooperation between the EU and the ACP states on a basis that conforms with WTO rules. Very little time is left to do this.
Ladies and gentlemen, even when looking optimistically into the future, we must make sure that we do not lose sight of present realities. I would therefore also like to mention the most serious problems currently besetting Africa. Combating poverty and disease remains one of the biggest challenges. Halving poverty is still a distant hope in Sub-Saharan Africa, although it is one of the targets we set ourselves by 2015 under the Millennium Development Goals. The international community must do all it can to fulfil these development goals in concert with the African governments. We still have much to do. We therefore cannot afford to slacken our efforts. The churches and their relief organizations, numerous non-governmental organizations and celebrities, as well as countless people who are not in the spotlight every day, are also committed to precisely these goals. It is a question of human solidarity and the indivisible right to a life in dignity wherever you are in the world.
The values inherent to our foreign policy are clearly visible in the fight against hunger and poverty. They can be seen in the battle against corruption, dictatorships and abuse of power, and when addressing human rights violations. The protection of human rights is an elementary component of our policies for peace, development and security. The protection of democracy and the rule of law is just as important. For if either democracy or the rule of law is undermined, peace and security are at risk and sustainable development is impossible.
The crisis in Zimbabwe is an example of such a process. We are deeply concerned about the developments there, about the threats and victimization, the intimidation of the Opposition, the demolition of slums and the constant human rights violations. We cannot just sit back and watch. In my opinion, it is above all the states of southern Africa, i.e. the states neighbouring Zimbabwe, that are called upon to act.
Nor can we ignore the conflict in Sudan, and in particular the fate of the people in Darfur. Of course, it is the Sudanese Government that should be the first to take action, but the African Union and the international community must also be ready to step in. UNAMID must be deployed as quickly as possible, and will then hopefully have the desired effect - as we have discussed today. That is our joint concern.
The situation in Somalia is a disaster for the people. It poses a considerable threat to the region and beyond. The national process of reconciliation must be pushed forward and a political solution found. I therefore call on all parties to the conflict to reach an agreement. We would be glad to offer our help, and will provide it as and when we are asked.
The main responsibility for peace, stability and security is of course borne by Africa. The African Union is the key forum for political solutions on the continent. It is the institution for the development of an African peace and security architecture. It is encouraging that the African Union, together with the regional organizations in all parts of Africa, is working to build up military and civilian structures that will be able to help prevent or contain conflicts, even at short notice.
At the G8 Summit in Heiligendamm we all stated our willingness to support the African Union and regional organizations to this end. The G8's partnership with Africa is based on a comprehensive concept for peace and security. It encompasses the establishment of the African Standby Force, as well as combating the proliferation of small arms and the illegal exploitation of natural resources in conflict areas. The German Government will provide significant finance for projects in this field from 2008.
Functioning states are vital for the future of Africa. Good governance under the rule of law is the key for democracy, legal certainty and economic success. Without good governance, even reforms launched with the best intentions will not have the desired long-term effect. For this reason, I welcome the voluntary commitments made by ever more states under the African Peer Review Mechanism to chart new paths - towards greater social participation, responsibility, transparency and visibly improved living conditions. I hope that as many states as possible will sign up to this Mechanism and will seize it as a real opportunity for effective reform.
We have, ladies and gentlemen, arrived at a point where we can put the relationship between the international community and Africa on a new footing. Germany, and I myself, would like to contribute to this. The Western partners have taken on a great responsibility by making the pledges they have. They will not be easy to honour. This is true of our contribution to the Millennium Goals as well as the specific pledges to increase our public development assistance to bring it up to the promised ODA level. We are however prepared to exert ourselves. We know that our credibility is at stake. We therefore want to meet these goals.
But let me put it quite clearly: development aid and support from the Western countries will not suffice on their own. Regardless of whether we are talking about the Millennium Goals, political progress, economic growth or eradicating disease and poverty, the foundation for development and successful poverty reduction in Africa lies in Africa itself, in Africa's willingness to undertake reforms, in Africa's will to participate and shoulder responsibility in the global partnership for sustainable development.
Africa's image in the world has improved recently. The world is coming to realize that we cannot and must not overlook the cultural wealth and creative potential of the people of Africa. I consider it our joint responsibility to ensure that this positive development cannot be undone. The success or failure of our policy is in the end not an abstract question. It affects people - the people on your continent. They are waiting for success. They want to be able to take their lives into their own hands. It affects the political, economic and social progress of the people in twenty-first century Africa. That is why we want a genuine partnership. And that is why I would like to thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to talk to you today. I wish you all the very best!
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