Westerwelle Becomes First German Foreign Minister to Address African Union Summit

KAMPALA – Guido Westerwelle bacame the first German Foreign Minister to address the African foreign ministers at the recent African Union Summit in Kampala. He described Africa as “a continent full of opportunities” which is finally taking the place it deserves as an

equal partner when it comes to tackling international problems and as an attractive location for business.

On the fringes of the Summit, the Federal Foreign Minister also held one-on-one talks with almost 20 of the 53 foreign ministers of the African Union. Alongside the meetings with his counterparts, Westerwelle also spoke with Jean Ping, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, about integration, peace building and development on the continent.

For the Minister, increasingly African solutions are emerging for African problems – above all from within the AU. “You are resolutely deploying your own resources to promote peace and security. You have condemned coups d’état. You have shaped the AU in such a way that it can intervene in severe cases of human rights abuse in a Member State,” declared Westerwelle, paying tribute to the successes of the AU.

The AU membership of Guinea, Madagascar and Niger is currently suspended following unconstitutional changes of government.

“The AU has given the entire continent greater weight,” stated Minister Westerwelle. Germany is therefore advocating that this weight be reflected by a permanent seat for Africa on the UN Security Council.

The Minister believes peace and development come about on the same basis. “Where human rights are respected, where there is legal security and good governance, people can use their skills to take responsibility for their own lives,” as the Minister emphasized. To his mind, investors look for the same preconditions and he went on to describe Africa as a continent full of opportunities. Westerwelle called upon the African Union to use these opportunities together.

Peace and security are basic prerequisites for a positive development in Africa. Thus the crisis-stricken states of the Sudan and Somalia were a central focus of the Federal Minister’s talks.

Westerwelle underscored Germany’s important contribution to stabilizing Somalia. In Operation Atalanta, Germany is protecting shipping and trade off the Somali coast, in the EU Somalia Training Mission, it is training Somali soldiers and in Ethiopia Somali police officers.

But the Minister emphasized the support goes beyond Somalia citing as further examples of German support for peace and security in Africa the work to create the police element of the African Standby Force, the AU Border Programme and the construction of new headquarters for the AU Department of Peace and Security in Addis Ababa. Germany is also engaged in the UN Peace Mission in the Sudan.

As the core of its peace and security architecture, the AU is planning an African Standby Force and Germany is helping build the police component. The aim is to establish a collective security and early-warning system to open the way for timely and effective reactions to crises and conflict situations. Through the Border Programme, the AU completed the border demarcation between Burkina Faso and Mali in January 2010.

At the end of his visit, the Federal Foreign Minister visited the EU mission which is training Somali security forces in Uganda. He was keen to express his support and respect for the European-Ugandan troops and was particularly impressed by the biography of one Somali recruit: The mother of six children had lost her husband in an attack by the radical Islamist al-Shabab militia in Somalia. Now she wanted to play her part to ensure her homeland made its way to a brighter and more stable future.

Al-Shabab terrorists also admitted responsibility for the devastating attacks that struck Kampala on July 11. More than 75 people who were watching the World Cup final at Public Viewing events lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.

The Minister visited a rugby pitch, the scene of one of the attacks, and together with Okello Oryem, Ugandan Minister of State in the Foreign Ministry, laid a wreath in memory of the victims.

As Minister Westerwelle pointed out in his speech to the AU, above all the World Cup in which the Africans impressed the whole world with its perfect organization and overwhelming hospitality had made plain how the world has changed the way it looks at Africa.

During his visit to Kampala, Federal Foreign Minister announced an increase in emergency humanitarian aid for Somalia of a further million euro bringing the total to 2.7 million euro in 2010. The funding will be made available to the International Committee of the Red Cross to finance food, drinking water, medication and emergency shelter. Over the past three years, the German Government has made more than 30 million Euro available for humanitarian assistance in Somalia.

The humanitarian situation has continued to worsen in the face of lasting armed conflicts, above all in the greater Mogadishu area. Just since the start of this year, 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes. Most have sought protection in refugee camps or attempted to reach neighbouring countries. Alongside the internal conflict, an unusually severe drought has meant there are now 1.4 million internally displaced persons. Some 3.8 million people are considered to be in need of humanitarian aid.