Rwanda: Top EU Diplomat Lauds Reconciliation Efforts By Rwandans

26 October 2021

Josep Borrell, the European Union (EU)'s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Vice President of the EU Commission has lauded the reconciliation efforts undertaken by Rwandans after the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.

From early this week, he has been on an official visit to Rwanda, where he, among other activities, visited the Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali as well as Interpeace, an EU-funded project on societal trauma healing in Bugesera District in the Eastern Province.

During his visit at Interpeace, Borrell described the reconciliation and forgiveness efforts by the people as something extraordinary that goes beyond the "animal spirit of the human being."

"It demands a lot of courage to talk to the ones who kill your children and forgive them. It is one thing to forgive and another thing is to forget," he said.

He however highlighted the importance of remembering what happened in the past, "because people that do not keep memory are condemned to repeat the same mistakes."

He extended his gratitude to Rwandans, saying they are giving an extraordinary lesson of humanity, "because to forgive such atrocities must be very difficult."

"I am coming from a country, Spain, which suffered an awful civil war many years ago, and people still look at the other, thinking of the past and blaming each other for what happened. But we cannot build a future by blaming each other for what happened in the past," he said.

"At a certain moment, massacres have to finish. At a certain moment, humanity has to win the battle against the devil. Has to win the battle against the devil that all of us have in our soul,"

"The devil that makes people kill their neighbour. And you have been witnessing and suffering this at a great scale. And the wounds are still there. How not? I know that hundreds of thousands of people from Rwanda are still traumatised from the awful experience of the genocide. And rightly so, how not?"

"This has to be overcome. And the only way of overcoming it is the way you are doing (it). This requires incredible human courage, because I know from my personal experience how difficult it is to forgive."

He referred to the gathering of people he was addressing as the most extraordinary human experience he has ever lived.

"Believe me, I am not saying that for getting your applause. I am saying that because that is what I am feeling. In my country, such a thing never happened and we kept, for years, the wounds open, the hate to the other for what they did," he said.

"So, I can only encourage you to continue on this way. I can only encourage you to continue to build peace. Starting with the neighbours, starting with the one with whom you share a common history of cruelty and pain. But, nevertheless, it is with them with whom you have to build your future. The future of the young people from this beautiful country," he added.

He also asked for forgiveness from Rwandans in regard to the fact that the international community was not able to prevent or avoid the genocide.

"We are also guilty. We can be guilty by action or we can be guilty for non-action. For not helping people in danger. And we did not. So, forgive us also," he said.

During his visit, Borrell also met with President Paul Kagame, where they talked about situations in Mozambique, Central Africa Republic, Ethiopia and Sudan.

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