Libya hosts EU-Africa summit
By Jamel Arfaoui for Magharebia in Tunis – 02/12/10
The 3rd Africa-EU summit ended in Tripoli on Tuesday (November 30th) with an agreement to strengthen relations between the two continents.
In their closing statement, heads of state and government officials from 80 African and European nations agreed that "the partnership between Africa and the European Union is one of the most enduring global relationships".
Africa "is more than ever on the eve of a fundamental evolution offering new opportunities and perspectives towards enhanced integration and improved sustainable development", the statement said. Participants will work on the co-operation strategy before the 2013 summit in Brussels.
"What took place can be considered a timely wake-up call," said political analyst and al-Sharq al-Awsat correspondent Mongi Saidani. "I also think that anyone who carefully reads the closing statement will this time see an absence of the sentimental language which was replaced by a realistic language, the language of common interests."
"When we look at the third Africa-EU summit, we would have hopes that there will be a better future for the young generations in the continent," Tunisian political analyst Essia Atrous said. "However, when we look at the reality of these relations, we realise that the road is still long ahead before we can reap the fruits of partnership between the two sides. In fact, behind these optimistic political speeches, these ceremonial pictures of the leaders of the two continents, and behind these broad smiles, the horizons are still limited, and this is for several reasons."
Atrous then added: "There is no doubt that changing the image of the continent so that it does not always remain a heavy burden on the world is an ambitious goal for its different peoples. However, realising these goals requires strategic options that would put an end to corruption and absolute rule."
The closing statement also called for "realising more equal and balanced development" in addition to confronting illegal immigration by encouraging economic growth in Africa.
Libyan journalist and rights activist Ghaida Touati told Magharebia that Europe must "do their duty towards these countries, by supporting them in development projects, providing sustainable development support so that illegal immigration may stop, supporting human development in them." Touati added that "if this summit fails to activate these strategies soon, it will be a failure because the European side doesn't want to shoulder its responsibility for these countries."
However, Touati said that it doesn't mean that African countries are relieved of their responsibility. "They too must shoulder their responsibility towards their peoples and try to change the conditions of their countries for the better, by combating corruption, providing a democratic atmosphere, and supporting civil society organisations. The backwardness of these countries is largely due to the repressive governments that rule them one after the other without any change in the conditions of their peoples."
"The debates and discussions in the summit between the north and south, or Africa and Europe, were not free from the typical discourse prevailing between the two sides: an African side that seeks aid and assistance and demands support, and the European side that addresses the other with a language of alms or aid, but doesn't forget to sugar-coat it with the human rights and democracy slogans," political activist Mohamed bou Oud told Magharebia.
In addition to economic co-operation, the parties addressed the situation in Somalia, agreeing to "continue concerted efforts to bring the Somali conflict to an end, to stabilise the internal situation and to promote timely post-conflict reconstruction and development efforts".
The statement added that the EU and African Union "will continue working together in support of a strengthened African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), as well as of the Somali security forces, extending support to the federal government in the framework of a reinvigorated comprehensive political strategy."
Participants in the summit also agreed to continue to collaborate in all fields between African and European countries with "the aim of building on common values and goals in pursuit of good governance, democracy and the rule of law".
"We firmly condemn all unconstitutional changes of governments which, alongside bad governance, are one of the main causes of instability, insecurity and conflicts," they concluded.
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