Koenders to attend African Union Summit

On Friday 30 and Saturday 31 January, Minister of Foreign Affairs Bert Koenders will attend the 24th annual African Union Summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. ‘The African Union is becoming more resolute and effective. The Netherlands and Europe support the AU in creating a stable and economically strong Africa, something that will benefit us all,’ said the minister.

At the summit, participants will discuss member states’ plans for Africa’s future and the protracted conflicts which pose an obstacle to the continent’s development. The terrorist activities of Boko Haram in Nigeria will also be a major focus.

‘Long-term plans in areas like infrastructure, the economy and trade will be a central feature of the summit,’ said Mr Koenders. ‘It is encouraging to see the African Union taking the initiative and formalising shared aspirations. I welcome the increased level of ambition shown by the AU and its member states.’

Mr Koenders does feel, however, that individual African countries could shoulder more responsibility in the areas of peace and security. ‘Cross-border crime, conflicts and emergencies, like in Nigeria and Sudan, have been a huge problem for Africa for far too long,’ he remarked. ‘Closer cooperation is essential in tackling these threats.’

The minister praised the Union’s efforts to solve conflicts on the continent: ‘Increasingly often, the AU is leading operations to bring conflicts under control and re-establish security, as seen with the AU peace missions to Somalia and Mali. Where necessary, the international community can support the AU in this.’

A number of ministers and leaders will be present at the summit. Mr Koenders intends to meet with several of them individually.