22 September 2010

Africa: Region Seeks Economic, Trade Partnerships With the EU


MEMBER of Parliament and Government Chief Whip in the National Assembly of the Republic of Namibia, Professor Peter Katjavivi, presented a speech, on behalf of Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, Speaker of the National Assembly and the current President of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), on the occasion of the parliamentary high-level conference on EU-Africa: Partnership for Development and Security in Brussels, Belgium on September 15-16, 2010.

The full text of the speech:

"Since the first Africa-EU Summit held in Cairo, Egypt, in 2000, Africa and the EU (European Union) have increasingly become partners on common issues. Our partnership has been reflected in our joint strategy to address several issues, but in particular, peace and development.

"The objectives of our partnership were stipulated in the Africa-EU strategy and its action-oriented plan adopted at the Africa-EU Summit held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2007. Some have criticised the plan for not having been sufficiently implemented.

This forum will provide us with an opportunity to review our actions, as well as the strategy, not only for the development and security of Africa and Europe, but the rest of the world too.

"Indeed, this conference comes at a pertinent time, as we prepare for the upcoming summit in Libya in November 2010, where we will revisit many of the issues to be touched on here. The same could be said for the debate at the upcoming UN General Assembly where we will be assessing the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"The joint strategy itself is comprised of eight areas which overlap and support one another. They are built on strong principles which require us to treat Africa as a whole entity, to enhance political dialogue within the framework of a partnership characterised by equality, joint ownership and shared responsibility, and toward addressing common challenges through strengthened institutions.

"Mr President, I believe that there will be no argument during this conference that without development there can, ultimately, be no real security. If I may add, a development dimension that a colleague and friend of mine, the late Professor Walter Kamba, has characterised as:

'The Holy Trinity of Human Rights, Democracy and Development.'

"He went on to state:

'If development means, as I think it does, the attainment ultimately of a good quality of life, then separating and removing any one of the three elements from the trinity would detract from genuine development. All three are inseparably interdependent.'

"It is all very well for us to point out that we need to focus our efforts on peace keeping and peace enforcement, but the truth is that without peace building and the accompanying focus on development in the economic and trade spheres, we will perpetuate a situation of instability and, therefore, insecurity.

"The contribution of the European Union to development and peace on the African continent is substantial, highly appreciated and should be encouraged. We acknowledge the regular high-level contacts between the Peace and Security Council of the AU (African Union) and Committee on Peace and Security of the EU, the Troika, the contacts between the European Parliament and the Pan-African Parliament. Indeed, these are the core areas of joint cooperation in which we have been growing our partnership.

"As a result of these and other sustained efforts, the African Union can today boast of a Peace and Security Architecture. The EU has given important support to the African Union in implementing the Architecture through cooperation at technical, expert and official level.

"Furthermore, it is worth noting that the African Union Heads of State and Government declared 2010 as the Year of Peace and Security. We sincerely hope that many countries will mark the Day of Non-Violence on 21 September, not only with a moment of silence, but we further hope that day will become at the least a 24-hour period on our continent, to be marked annually, on which we can cease all violence and war. Many believe that peace can start with one day of non-violence.

"On that note, we need to encourage the growing number of countries on the African continent that are now holding regular, peaceful and internationally acceptable elections in conformity with minimum standards for free and fair elections to continue doing so. We need to insist that unconstitutional changes of government are unacceptable and we need to support all African efforts to ensure that they are not tolerated.

"For this reason, I call on our EU partners to support the sanctions declared on Madagascar where we find a non-cooperative attitude towards the regionally appointed mediators. However, it is also important for our side to set up the committee on sanctions at the AU, in order for the practical aspects of the sanctions decisions to be made operational.

"Mr President, Africa is putting its money where its mouth is regarding peace-keeping operations. Indeed, the recently held AU Summit in Kampala, Uganda, in July this year, decided that it would increase the number of troops in Somalia, in an attempt to bring much-needed peace to that country. The decision to increase troops has been at a high cost for those African governments that have committed their troops. I hope that the EU and the UN will decide to support the decision, not only in terms of financial resources, but in a number of other areas such as active logistical support, and the provision of material support to provide for a clear advantage in an urban war context, which Mogadishu of course is. I am sure that our friends realise that the loss of Mogadishu would provide for substantial, negative implications not only for Somalia itself and East Africa, but that it would undoubtedly become a hotbed of terrorist elements.

"Somalia, on the Horn of Africa, has become a security threat, not only to its citizens, but also to its neighbours and to the world as a whole. Indeed, it is indicative of the seriousness of the situation that Japan has recently announced its decision to set up a military base in the Horn of Africa in order to address issues of security arising in Somalia. These are realities, which cost not only the people in the region, but governments near and far.

Is it not time for us to take a more serious approach to this matter?

"Mr President, while we have made progress in the peace and security partnership of the first Action Plan 2008-2010, we can still do much more. The first challenge of the 3rd AU-EU Summit should be to work out programmes and projects that will show tangible results of the partnership.

"It is all very well for us to point out that we need to focus our efforts on peace keeping and peace enforcement, but the truth is that without peace building and the accompanying focus on development in the economic and trade spheres, we will perpetuate a situation of instability and, therefore, insecurity.

"Mr President, we all know the cost to security on the African continent of the economic, fuel and resulting food crises. Africa has recognised the importance of industrialisation, of adding value to our raw materials, of diversification of our industries and, of course, the development of infrastructure, among others. These are areas in which we seek partnership, which will assist in securing not only a brighter future for our young people, but a secure environment for the world as a whole.

"We need to work together in partnership to develop in the areas of trade and economics to ensure that we have a secure and peaceful continent and world.

"Our partnership in security-related structures, measures and actions is good, a positive example of the value which can be created through partnership.

"Being a Member of Parliament from Namibia you might have predicted that I would refer to the ongoing negotiations concerning the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) between the EU and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States), and in particular the African regions. In this context, economic development, upliftment of the poor, creation of work, transfer of technology and fair trade, we want to see similar positive outcomes. We would like to see significantly more measured approaches in the negotiations between Europe and the developing world with respect to issues raised around EPAs. We would like to emphasise that developing countries should not be made worse off after the conclusion of these negotiations.

"Presently, the level of widespread condemnation of the EPAs in terms of their substance, or perhaps lack of substance, by Africans, particularly reflecting all levels of society as well as academics and NGOs (non-governmental organisations), making clear what the EU demands at this point will not provide for greater equity, but will perpetuate our level of underdevelopment and will mitigate against the achievements of the MDGs. We call on our European partners and friends to take a step backwards from their current excessive demands in the EPA negotiations and allow Africa the policy space, which it requires to advance its development.

"We call for greater understanding by the EU towards Africa, as the consequences will greatly affect Africa, far more than Europe. I am sure that I may rely on my fellow parliamentarians and men and women of goodwill for their support in these matters."

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