Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

1 December 2010

Africa/EU Reinforce Partnership

President Paul Biya joined other African Heads of State and Government in Libya to review their partnership with the European Union.

A cross-section of African leaders met with their European Union counterparts in Tripoli, Libya, from November 29-30 to render more dynamic the Africa/EU partnership created in 2000 after their meeting in Cairo, Egypt. The second Africa/EU Summit that held in Lisbon, Portugal, came out with key concerns called the 2008-2010 Action Plan for the enhancement of partnership between Africa and the European Union (EU). And so, Tripoli, 2010 had to review that partnership.

Given the importance of the Summit, President Paul Biya and wife, Chantal Biya travelled in to Tripoli on Sunday November 28 and returned on Tuesday November 30, 2010 after intense activities behind close door and in open sessions. The President of the Republic not only took an active part in the officially opening ceremony on Monday but attended special sessions with the Libyan Leader, Muammar Gaddafi as well as had an audience with the Libyan Guide on Tuesday before taking off from Tripoli.

The audience with the Libyan Guide gave Mr. Paul Biya the occasion to talk bilateral and multilateral issues with Muammar Gaddafi such as the constitutional framework of the United States of Africa, a project cherished by President Muammar Gaddafi and several other African leaders, but which is yet to take off in full scale. President Biya pointed out that Cameroon will in the near future appoint a resident ambassador to Libya to better reinforce the Yaounde/Tripoli ties.

Although the final declaration of the summit was yet to be made public yesterday December 1, 2010, all indications are that both continents have no choice but to forge ahead in their partnership drive. This was evident from the pronouncements by key speakers at the opening session on Monday such as the summit, co-chair Ali Bongo Ondimba, President of Gabon and Deputy Chairperson of the African Union, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya as host President; the President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy; the President of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barosso and his counterpart of the African Union Commission, Jean Ping; and representatives of the Pan African Parliament and the European Parliament as well as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

President Paul Biya later in the day made the position of Cameroon known through a statement handed over at one of the plenary sessions. In it the President noted that "the relationship between our two continents has progressively grown stronger from the time when it was decided that it should be based increasingly on mutual benefit and respect." He added that "Since the Lisbon Summit, the economic and financial crisis has shaken the structure of our economies, in Europe as in Africa, calling into question a number of rules that we had all accepted."

Meeting under the theme "Investment, economic growth and job creation", the summit was definitely out to look at some of the crucial issues that have hampered a fair relationship between Africa and the EU such as imbalance trade links among others. The Tripoli declaration being awaited and the action plan for 2011- 2013 that should translate the political will of the leaders into concrete reality, should therefore constitute one of the palpable fallouts of the Third Africa/EU Summit. The action plan, which has eight priority areas of action, will build on the work accomplished since the last joint summit held in 2007, and reflect the shared determination to respond effectively to the challenges of tomorrow. The eight priorities are peace and security; democratic governance and human rights; regional integration, trade and infrastructure; climate change and environment MDGs; energy; migration, mobility and employment; and science, information society and space.

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