Monrovia — Monrovia, Liberia - President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia chaired the closing session of the 3rd African Union-European Union Summit on Tuesday, as Heads of State and Governments adopted the Tripoli Declaration and Action Plan of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. The European Union committed 50 billion Euros for Africa's development, over the next three years.
The Plan of Action, covering the period 2011-2013, focuses on partnerships in eight areas: peace and security; democratic governance and human rights; regional integration, trade and infrastructure; the Millennium Development Goals; energy; climate change and environment; migration, mobility and employment; and science, ICT and space.
The Tripoli Declaration reaffirms the commitment of the Heads of State and Governments towards strengthening the strategic partnership between the two continents.
The two-day Summit, held November 29-30, brought together Heads of State and Governments of Africa and the European Union from 80 countries, representing more than 1.5 billion people. Its objective was to strengthen the Africa-EU partnership, capitalizing on lessons learned and providing a solid framework for long-term, systematic and well-integrated cooperation in the areas of investment, economic growth and job creation - the theme of the Summit.
In her capacity as Chair for the African Union, President Johnson Sirleaf announced that the 4th Africa-EU Summit will be held in Brussels, Belgium, in 2013. The first Summit was held in Cairo in 2000. At the second Summit, held in Lisbon in 2007, the Africa-EU Millennium Development Goals Partnership was launched and the first Action Plan (2008-2010) was adopted.
In closing the third Summit, the Liberian President said that Africa, the UN, the EU and the rest of the world faced challenges, but these could be adequately addressed through partnership. By working together, we'll transform the challenges into opportunities, not only for our two continents but for the rest of humankind, she stated.
"Fighting phenomena such as climate change, trans-border organized crime, terrorism and piracy cannot be one country's or region's domain," the President noted. The attainment of energy security must be a collective responsibility, and together we can make a difference.
None of these issues could be achieved overnight or easily, the Liberian President went on to say. "What is required is the political will, commitment and dedication to the ideals and objectives as set out in the Joint Strategy, and that political will must be supported by concrete action on both sides." She called on all actors to fully participate in the implementation of the 2011-2013 Action Plan.
The renewed Africa-EU partnership provided the foundation to exploit numerous opportunities, said President Sirleaf, adding: "We must not allow such opportunities to slip away. By joining hands, we can demonstrate leadership in climate change, invest in agriculture and contribute to addressing food security. We can develop renewable sources of energy and contribute to energy security, jointly creating the foundation for a safer world where the current and future generations can live in peace without fear. We can entrench democracy and the rule of law, enhance trade between the two continents, and create opportunities for wealth creation and poverty alleviation. We can address the phenomenon of migration, which remains a matter of concern to both continents. These opportunities are there and the time to exploit them is now. What is needed is action on both sides," the President concluded.
Earlier, the Liberian President, speaking on behalf of Africa, presented the overview statement of the sub-theme on "governance and human rights," observing that in just twenty years Africa had gone from almost no democracy to almost half under democratic rule. "This transformation is fast becoming a tsunami across many African countries. Dictators are being replaced by democracy. Authoritarianism is giving way to accountability. Economic stagnation is turning to resurgence. And, most important, despair is being replaced by hope." The record showed clearly that Africa's improvement in good governance had had a positive effect on growth and investment.
Yet, the President noted, while many African countries were celebrating 50 years of independence, and Europe its 53rd year of regional integration, "Europe is today largely integrated while Africa remains balkanized with reliance on historical trading relations."
This is where the Europe and Africa partnership can make a difference, the Liberian leader said. "It is time to move away from the continued North-South colonial trading patterns and bilateral relationships based upon political and commercial objectives, to supporting regional industrial activities that will produce the economies of scale required for private sector growth."
The President noted that the African Union has become a stronger force for the promotion of governance, as demonstrated by strong policies that reject the change of government through military means or by force. Benefits were also derived from the African governance peer review process in the promotion of democracy and development in Africa.
Although pockets of repression and authoritarianism persist, it is, generally, an exciting and encouraging time for Africa, the Liberian President stated, adding: "We have put behind us the conflict and misery of the past and replaced them with peace and opportunity. We know the challenges are great, but the partnership forged with Europe, a partnership based upon mutuality in respect and interest, will raise our hopes and grow our confidence as we deepen our economic recovery, build stronger democracies, fight poverty and build a brighter future."
At two plenary sessions, the Summit discussed five other sub-topics: regional integration, infrastructure, ICT, science and the private sector; energy, climate change and space; MDGs, agriculture and food security; peace and security; and migration, mobility and job creation.
During her time in Tripoli, President Johnson Sirleaf also held bilateral meetings with the Presidents of Ghana, Senegal, Benin and Cape Verde; the Vice President of Nigeria; the President of the European Council; the Minister for International Development Cooperation of Sweden; and a business group from Morocco.
The Liberian President arrived in Tripoli on Sunday, November 28th, for the two-day Summit of African and European leaders. Members of her delegation included the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Sylvester Grigsby; Hon. Jarjar Kamara, Liberia's Ambassador to Libya; Hon. Edward H. Clinton, Liberia's Ambassador to the African Union; the Assistant Ministers of Foreign Affairs for International Cooperation and of Afro-Asian Affairs, Hons. Elias Shoniyin and George Wisner, respectively; and Hon. S.T. Eugene Peabody, Liberia's Representative with Libya Investments.