The Chancellor’s trip to Africa
More support for Mali
Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged Mali’s President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, more support for his country. Mali was the first stop on the Chancellor’s three-day trip to Africa, which will also take in Niger and Ethiopia. Africa is increasingly a focus of Germany’s foreign, security and development policy.
After her arrival in Bamako on Sunday the Chancellor met with Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. "We intend to help stabilise Mali and ensure that the country can develop positively," said the Chancellor after the meeting.
"It is important to us to ensure coherence in conjunction with our development cooperation and the military support we are providing," Angela Merkel continued. This is why Germany is to step up development assistance in the north of the country in the water supply and agriculture sectors. The people there must see that "peace not only means the absence of war, but also that they have better prospects of economic development".
Meeting with German troops
Later in the day Angela Merkel met German troops who are part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), and found out first hand about their work. Germany is contributing 650 soldiers to the mission. "Firstly, I would like to thank the troops for serving, because in the face of the prevailing temperatures here and the climatic conditions alone it is a challenge," she said afterwards. MINUSMA and French troops are endeavouring to bring the north of Mali under the control of the government in Bamako again, and are fighting Islamist groups to this end.
In Mali the Bundeswehr is performing reconnaissance work and is also involved in the EU training mission for the Malian army and police force. The Chancellor called for better coordination between the reconnaissance work of the Bundeswehr and the MINUSMA mission, which is largely made up of African soldiers.
Angela Merkel praised the commitment of the soldiers to the training mission. They have already done a very good job, she said. Now it is important "to make sure that the training for the Malian army is sustainable, and to help ensure that the soldiers in Mali’s armed forces see their army as an army for the country". The people in the north of the country who have already tried to secede must be reintegrated into the country. That too is part of the peace process, she said.
Germany is involved in three missions in Mali: the EU training mission which is training soldiers for Mali’s armed forces, the police training mission which is designed to improve border management, and MINUSMA which is working to improve the security situation in the north of the country.
Second stop – Niger
On Monday the Chancellor flew on to Niamey, the capital of Niger. Niger is one of the most important transit countries for migrants coming from other parts of Africa. Her meeting with President Mahamadou Issoufou will thus focus on his country’s migration policy and on a planned migration partnership with the European Union.
The Chancellor will also be visiting a transit centre run by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which cares for migrants in transit. A visit to a German-financed school is also planned. And Angela Merkel will meet German troops serving at an Bundeswehr air transport base. The base is part of Germany’s involvement in the UN peace mission in Mali.
Third stop – Ethiopia
Ethiopia is home to one of the world’s most ancient cultures. Germany established official diplomatic relations with the country back in 1905. In the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia plays an important political and economic role.
In Addis Ababa the Chancellor will meet Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. She will also meet representatives of civil society organisations. During her meetings she will find out more about the political situation inside Ethiopia.
The Chancellor is also to meet with representatives of the African Union, whose headquarters are in Addis Ababa.
The African Union is the main driver of political and economic integration in Africa. Over the last few years it has increasingly been involved in resolving conflicts in the region. The central AU institution is the Peace and Security Council.
Peace and Security Building funded by Germany
The primary reason for Angela Merkel’s trip to Africa is the official opening of the Julius Nyerere Building for Peace and Security in Addis Ababa. The new building was erected with funds provided by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. At the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday the Chancellor will speak about the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA).
The building houses the plenary chamber for meetings of the AU’s Peace and Security Council. It combines local craftwork and German high tech construction techniques.
Germany’s cooperation with the AU focuses on the fields of peace and security, economic integration, agriculture and infrastructure, trade, education, training and climate change. Over the last ten years Germany has provided a total of 500 million euros to support the AU.
African dignitaries visit Berlin
Following her return from Africa, Chancellor Angela Merkel will receive African visitors in Berlin. On 12 October the President of Chad, Idriss Déby will meet with the Chancellor, followed by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on 14 October.
These bilateral meetings will focus on fighting terrorism and the humanitarian challenges posed by the refugee crisis in the Lake Chad area.
Since the end of the colonial era, Africa has experienced highs and lows. The number of domestic and regional conflicts has risen in recent years. In cooperation with Germany, matters such as crisis transformation, and peace and security are thus becoming increasingly important. Other important topics include fighting terrorism and corruption and creating development prospects in African states.