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At a joint conference in Berlin, Federal Minister of Defence Dr Ursula von der Leyen and Federal Minister of Development Dr Gerd Müller spoke in favour of a collective approach for Africa, calling for a focus on “human security”. The GIZ’s Development Policy Forum assisted the ministries in organizing the event.
Development Minister Dr Gerd Müller opened the conference by emphasizing the common goal both ministries shared: “We are all working for peace.”
He called for a new partnership to promote peace and security, arguing that “there can be no development without security, and no security without development.” This concept for the new partnership for peace and security should, he added, be based on this fundamental fact. Müller pointed to civil crisis prevention as a decisive factor in moving forward. He praised the work of the GIZ and KfW, citing the training of judges and the creation of early warning systems as examples of successful efforts to promote stability in African partner nations. Expanding the security partnership with Africa, he added, was another vital step. Financial support to the African Union (AU) would improve the capabilities of African states to solve problems and conflicts themselves.
In conclusion, Minister Müller emphasised that the German government was committed and on schedule to achieve the 0.7 percent goal by 2020.
Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen endorsed Müller’s call to intensify cooperation between the two ministries. Past experience, she contended, had conclusively shown that military victory was not enough, unless civil measures were also put in place to ensure the personal security of the civil population. These included creating a health care system, promoting mutual tolerance and respect, support in building a constitutional democracy, and fighting corruption, Minister von der Leyen added.
Such efforts would ensure a secure future for the civilian population and prepare the ground for private sector investment. Von der Leyen pointed to three conditions essential to preparing the ground for the new partnership: “We need to focus on dialogue instead of monologue,” she said, including improving communication between ministries and with partner countries. Second on the list was the establishment of a ‘modern’ security concept that highlighted ‘human security’, the security of the individual.
Thirdly, she added, individual solutions needed to be developed to address the range of issues in the various countries of Africa.
In conclusion, Minister von der Leyen emphasised the interdependence of the European and the African continents, home to a total of roughly 1.2 billion people: “Africa’s success and stability is our success and stability.”
Creating perspectives for the future for Africa’s overwhelmingly young population was crucial, Minister von der Leyen said, which was best accomplished through education, employment, and participation In this context, von der Leyen highlighted the BMZ’s ‘Marshal Plan’ with Africa as an excellent start. It was, she noted, important not to force paternalistic solutions on African nations, but rather to bolster their internal strengths.
Minister of State for the Interior of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, praised the “empowerment” approach to Africa. As an example, he cited EU efforts to help Mali’s army fight internal terror with training and equipment – though unfortunately, these countermeasures had not entirely been successfully despite the increased support.
Edward Singhatey, Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission (Economic Community of West Africa States), also welcomed the approach. “We need to be able to offer people a better life,” he said, adding that more than 50 percent of the population of Africa was under 15 years of age. The danger of radicalization, he said, would continue to rise as long as young people have no perspectives for their futures, so battling poverty had to take precedence.
Koen Vervaeke, Managing Director Africa for the European Foreign Office, emphasised the need to boost the economy to drive development. The private sector, he added, played a key role in the essential process of creating jobs.
Photo on top: German Federal Ministers Dr Ursula von der Leyen and Dr Gerd Müller. Photo: Florian Gaertner/photothek.net