The Luxembourg Presidency of the Council of the European Union 2005URL (Internet address) : http://www.eu2005.lu/en/actualites/communiques/2005/05/18ecowas/
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Peace, security and good governance are the central points of the EU-ECOWAS ministerial meeting
On 18 May 2005, Jean Asselborn, current President of the Council of the European Union and Minister for Foreign Affairs, led the European delegation at the 7th ministerial meeting between the European Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in troika formation. The meeting was held at the Château de Senningen in Luxembourg.
ECOWAS was represented by Aïchatou Mindaoudou, Niger’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and current President of ECOWAS, and by Nana Akufo-Addo, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. The UNOWA (United Nations Office for West Africa) also participated in the meeting.
At the conclusion of the ministerial troika, Jean Asselborn made the following statement to the press:
"ECOWAS is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and I wish to express to ECOWAS my sincere congratulations on this occasion. ECOWAS is a responsible and effective partner with whom we can discuss a variety of issues in a spirit of openness, candidness and genuine partnership, as we did today.
We discussed topics of the utmost importance for the West African sub-region and for the EU: issues of peace and security, including the processes of 'disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration', and the reform of the security sectors in the different countries of the sub-region, as well as issues of good governance, economic and trade integration, and the various institutional aspects of our partnership.
More specifically, the post-conflict or open tension situations in West Africa were discussed in detail. We talked about the situations in Liberia, Guinea-Conakry, Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau and Togo. The transition in Sierra Leone is in the process of strengthening peace, and we hope that other countries in the sub-region will follow suit. It is essential for all the countries in the sub-region, whose fate and history are so closely interwoven, to progress together and steadily toward lasting peace and stability. A conflict in one of the countries cannot help but undermine stability in all the neighbouring States. Today the EU and ECOWAS reaffirmed their determination to join forces to strengthen peace and stability in the sub-region.
The EU welcomed the efforts made by ECOWAS to conduct an inquiry into the corruption that is endemic in Liberia, as it could compromise the transition process.
This morning we were also pleased with the mediation efforts made by ECOWAS and the AU in Ivory Coast, and in particular the mediation being carried out by South African President Mbeki, which led to the signing of the Pretoria Agreement. Now it is a matter of implementing the agreement.
With our partners from ECOWAS and UNOWA, we also had an exchange of views on the situation in Guinea-Bissau. We issued an urgent appeal to all the forces present to comply with the constitutional order so that the elections scheduled for June can take place in a free and democratic manner.
With regard to Togo, the EU praised the efforts ECOWAS has made to ease the situation following the death of President Eyadéma. We discussed the post-election situation in the country, and we called on the competent authorities to maintain order and the rule of law and to strictly observe human rights. Together we shall support the democratisation process in Togo. The EU will very closely monitor the implementation by the Togolese government of the 22 commitments made in the consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement.
Good economic governance, as well as the fight against light and small-calibre weapons, are key factors that have an impact on regional stability. Very often, there is also a direct link between the poor management of resources, weapons trafficking and the phenomenon of mercenaries. The programmes implemented by the African Party in the context of NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) and the ECOWAS Protocol Against Corruption can also play a leading role in good economic governance, and we expressed our satisfaction with them.
The Economic Partnership agreements were also on the agenda for our discussions. I shall limit myself to praising the progress made in the negotiation with the ECOWAS countries and the genuine political will that the region has demonstrated to move forward in the negotiation.
Elsewhere, we welcomed the considerable progress made by ECOWAS in the area of building its institutional capacities to prevent and manage crises.
Finally, we made a commitment to make a joint action plan operational between the EU, ECOWAS and UNOWA, which identifies the joint actions that we can undertake in order to strengthen peace and security in the sub-region while taking advantage of the complementarities between us.
In conclusion, I would like add that here, in Europe, we want to take the necessary steps toward Africa, without acting as teacher, without saying what must be done. We want to help the African continent and this region of West Africa in particular. This is a responsibility that we have."