AU-EU Ministerial meeting: Remarks by High Representative at the press conference following the Ministerial in Rwanda, Kigali

To start, I want to thank the Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Chairperson of the African Union Executive Council, Christophe Lutundula, our Rwandan host, Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta, and the Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Monique Nsanzabaganwa for hosting us and for this great organisation.

Our two continents face many challenges that threaten both Africa and Europe. And there are, at the same time countless opportunities available for us. On which we can and we should and we have to work together. There are countless opportunities, not only challenges.

With this in mind, we must produce concrete results for our fellow citizens. Only together we can move better, and there is an urgent need to accelerate the pace of how we move and for our partnership to take an unprecedented qualitative leap.

You know there are, in the world, there is no other border like the Mediterranean that separates two worlds with so big differences on demographics and on wealth. There is no other sea, other mountain, other river, that separates two worlds with such different dynamics from the point of view of the young people on one side, old people on the other side, differences on economic capabilities, cumulated capital and wealth. And this has to be balanced. Because this unbalance is unsustainable.

So we have to share the common ambition, we have to clarify misunderstandings and we have to talk frankly with each other in order to look for solutions, because that’s what friends and partners do.

There are three interconnected areas for our discussions today and I want to focus on and where we need and have to do better together.

First and foremost, the response to the pandemic. We agreed on the importance of further investing in health and social protection systems in Africa. And on increasing the production and acquittable access to vaccines, medical treatments and health technologies. We have recognized, everybody does, that there is an unbearable vaccination gap that has to be closed. A gap which is far too big between Africa and Europe. And it is of the paramount importance to act quickly because it’s not only a moral duty, it is also essential for everyone else and to get the pandemic globally under the control. And not only the pandemic from the health point of view, even economics. The disruption that we are suffering in the global economics today has a lot to do with the fact that we don’t have a global answer to the health side of the pandemic. So closing this vaccination gap is something on which we will have to invest much more energies and resources.

The second one comes after the pandemic. A world which will be better and greener and for that we should be champions of global sustainable growth. The President of the African Union and the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo has sent, us, today, to the press, a clear message. Africa is not a big emitter but is one of the most severely damaged by the climate change. So green growth is not an European ambition, it is not an European idea that we want to impose to the others, especially to the Africans, no. It’s an agenda imposed to all of us. By our past, present and future human action and by nature answering to it. And to get our prosperity and growth right we need the transition which has to be more than anything else,fair. If the transition is not fair among citizens and among countries, it will not happen.

The third and final area I would like to mention here, is peace and security. And I cannot agree more with the idea of “African solutions to African problems”, because it has been very clearly stated by the President of Rwanda [Paul Kagame] that no matter how much money, no matter how many troops you engage, there is not going to be a solution without the strong ownership of the people on building a good governance. We will continue supporting Africa, a number of African partners, on peace and security issues. No other partner matches the level of our engagement with Africa. We don’t have any kind of hidden agenda, at all levels, politically, financially or technically, we will support peace and security in Africa.

And I cannot close this conference without mentioning Sudan and the coup d’Etat that we see ongoing. The actions of the military represent a betrayal of the revolution, the transition and the legitimate request of the Sudanese people for peace, justice and economic development.

Let me say again to conclude: We don’t always agree on everything, not even among Europeans we agree on everything, but we agree on the essentials and this is what we are here for, this is why we have to work together to make our partnership, to have an unprecedented  leap forward from which we – all of us – can benefit together.

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