Summit brings EU and Africa closer together

‘It’s good that European and African leaders are working together for more peace, security and prosperity in Africa,’ said foreign minister Frans Timmermans today after the EU-Africa Summit in Brussels.

‘Large parts of Africa are already safe and stable,’ he continued. ‘But as the recent violence in the Central African Republic and South Sudan shows, some African countries can spin out of control quickly and seriously. It’s good that African leaders are themselves increasingly taking the initiative to prevent and counteract conflicts. Wherever necessary, Europe can help, as the Netherlands is doing in Mali. Our security, too, is at stake.’

In the margins of the summit, Mr Timmermans spoke with his Malian counterpart. He expressed his concern about the slow progress of peace and reconciliation in Mali. ‘We understand that it takes time,’ he said, ‘but delay brings the risk that people will feel excluded and resort to violence.’ The Netherlands is contributing to the UN mission to restore security and stability in Mali.

During the Summit, Mr Timmermans accepted invitations to visit Ethiopia and South Sudan later in 2014. With his counterpart from the Central African Republic, he agreed to talk with development cooperation minister Lilianne Ploumen about how the Netherlands might provide the CAR with extra assistance on top of the two million euros in emergency aid already pledged for 2014.

In his discussions with African colleagues, Mr Timmermans also broached the poor human rights situation in some African countries. ‘Our attention remains focused on democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and the fight against impunity. ‘The International Criminal Court, established in The Hague, is an important instrument in combating impunity. African involvement in the ICC therefore needs to remain strong.’

Mr Timmermans also discussed economic development in Africa. ‘Africa is developing more dynamically than ever before. The EU, as a trading partner and the world’s biggest donor, is a major player in Africa,’ he said. ‘Another reason why it’s important to maintain and widen our relations with each other.’