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EU comitted to Sahel

The EU Foreign affairs Council exchanged views on the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Sahel and the role the EU can play as leading partner in the region. The debate has been centred on ways to increase the impact of the EU’s actions supporting security, stability and development. The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell deplored death toll in Sahel region  – Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad, inderlinging the number of growing number of causalties last year amounting to five thousand people (4,779), among them 1500 soldiers.

 

The EU commitment to Sahel is considerable and unprecedented: because of the amounts mobilized but, above all, because of the longevity and intensity of the European political and human investment. Since 2014, the EU – Commission and Member States – has mobilized more than € 8 billion to respond to the multiple challenges of the region.

However the EU must do more, differently and better, and be more effective and better understood by the populations, the joint action must be rethought, the European diplomat said. The EU dialogue with our Sahelian partners must be more frank, more in-depth and be based on mutual trust in order to break the terrorist dialectic which seeks to divide all those who want peace in the Sahel.

Michel statement on Libya

“I would like to thank Chancellor Merkel, and the organisers of today’s conference, for your tireless work at this critical moment in the Libyan crisis” reads the statement of the EU Council president Charles Michel, issued after the Berlin Conferenece on Libya, which took place on Sunday, January 19.

https://twitter.com/eucopresident/status/1218904848898449409?s=21

It is encouraging to see the most influential regional and international partners come together in support of the UN-led efforts to find a political solution to the Libyan crisis.

As the EU has consistently stated, the only sustainable solution is through UN mediation efforts that put the needs of all Libyan people to the forefront.

I wish to reaffirm today the commitment of the European Union to the immediate cessation of hostilities in Libya in the interest of stability in its immediate neighborhood. We support the unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Libya, and this in the interest of regional stability and prosperity – this is vital for Europe.

We have supported German-led mediation efforts launched last year in support of the UN peace process. I would like to pay special tribute to UN Special Representative Salame, who, under the authority of Secretary General Guterres, has made every effort to bring the parties to the negotiations table in order to find a political solution to the conflict.

We would like to encourage cooperation with the African Union and the League of Arab States.

In recent weeks, High Representative Borrell and I have worked to support the conclusion of a ceasefire and for the relaunch of the peace process.

We are committed to play an important role in the follow-up to the Berlin Conference. We represent Libya’s main economic partner and primary investor. Libyan youths look to Europe when they study abroad. Libya’s long term prosperity depends on these economic and cultural ties.

That is why the EU is gearing up to implement the outcome of the Berlin Conference. We are ready to mobilise our means where they are most needed.

In the short term, our contribution to the follow-up to this Conference, we are reflecting on how best to contribute to the monitoring of the ceasefire and the respect of the arms embargo. On the arms embargo, the EU was the only regional organisation to enforce it after 2016. We intend to continue that effort, working with our partners around this table, to cover all the corridors where the embargo is being violated.

In the longer term, as conditions allow, we hope to make progress in other areas of the proposed Conclusions:

political – to support a future national conference, the organisation of elections, and possible work on the constitution;
economic – actions focused on capacity building in national institutions, such as the National Oil Company, Central Bank and Libyan Investment Authority;
security sector reform (through our Common Security and Defence Policy instruments, including the existing civilian mission EUBAM);
and human rights – the EU wishes to bring its expertise.
The EU is ready to host a Senior Officials Meeting of the International Follow-up Committee tasked with implementing the Conference Conclusions. And we are ready to play an active role in the technical working groups created by this process.

Now it is time for all members of the international community to work together to consolidate the ceasefire and respect the UN arms embargo and also preserve the unity of Libya’s financial institutions on which the unity of the country itself depends.

In the past, we have shown unity on a number of these objectives. For example, thwarting illegal attempts to purchase oil outside the official circuit. In other areas, we should have done better, in particular, on the arms embargo, as highlighted by the UN in its reports.

Moving forward, we should also avoid unilateral actions, such as the signing of agreements, which exacerbate the conflict. I am aiming at the actions that are incompatible with international law and which create a pretext for external interference in the Libyan conflict. The European Union has taken an unambiguous position on this, with the conclusions of the European Council on 12 December 2019.

Today we are committed to the Berlin process and the UN mediation efforts that put the needs of the Libyan people first. Today is an important step, but much work remains to be done. We are ready to contribute.Xxxxxx

Berlin conference on Libya failed

Concluding Berlin conference on Libya, German Chancellor Angela Merkel offered an insight into the problems the diplomacy faced, while attempting to bring opposing parities at the table for talks.

Negotiators were unable to bring the opposing parties to the table, Merkel said.

Berlin conference has offered an international setting for opposing forces in Libya, however supported by the UN the Chairman of the aministration resideing in Tripoli (GNA) Fayez al-Sarraj, and the chief of the Libyan National Army (LNA) Khalifa Haftar refused to meet directly to engage in talks on future settlement for Libya.

However the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell concluded the conference has been a significant event, confriming the committment of the EU to work towards peace in Libya, and he also underlined the meaningful refelection on the contribution of the ceasefire monitoring, and respect of arms embargo.

EU defence ministers to visit Sahel

The French Defence minister Florence Parly (pictured) expected to arrive to the Sahel on Sunday January 19 with her counterparts from Estonia, Sweden and Portugal, the countries ready to support Barkhane’s trooops in the fight against jihadist armed groups.

“I am going to the Sahel on Sunday, I will be accompanied by the Swedish Minister for Defense, as well as by the Estonian Minister for Defense and finally the Portuguese Minister“, said Florence Parly on Europe 1.

We will continue to support our Sahelian partners and, in addition, we are calling for internationalization, for partners to join us to help the countries of the Sahel to fight this fight,” she added.

Estonia has confirmed its participation in the future coalition of special forces (“Takuba”) which France has taken the initiative to support by 4,500 troops of Barkhane in the Sahel. Sweden and Portugal could also be present.

We are not alone and there will certainly be more of us there when, in the summer, this Takuba force, which will be made up of European special forces, will be able to accompany the Malian armed forces,” said Florence Parly.

Barkhane does not act alone. The last operation that we conducted recently, more than 50% of the forces that were involved in this operation were partner forces, Sahelian and European. ”

Haftar makes friends in EU

Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar will hold talks in Athens on January 17, days ahead of a peace conference in Berlin which he and the head of Tripoli’s UN-recognised government Fayez al-Sarraj are expected to attend, France 24 TV channel reports.

“I hope that the parties will take this opportunity to put the future of Libya back in Libyan hands,” Maas said.

“When I visited in Libyen General Haftar made it clear: he wants to contribute to the success of the Libya conference in Berlin and is generally willing to participate. He has agreed to comply with the existing armistice” German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas wrote on his Twitter microblog page.

However Greece announced it will block any European Union peace agreement for Libya, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said unless a maritime deal between Turkey and Libya is cancelled.

“Greece at the level of a summit meeting will never accept any political solution on Libya that does not include as a precondition the annulment of this agreement,” Mitsotakis told Greek television on January 16.

“To put it simply, we will use our veto.”

Greece says the deal setting border and energy exploration areas in the Mediterranean between Libya and Turkey is “unacceptable and illegal” because Greek rights in the Mediterranean are ignored.

Mitsotakis is also disappointed Greece has been excluded from a peace summit on Libya to be held on January 19 in Berlin. He added it is wrong not to invite Greece and plans to fail a complain about it to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Marshall Khalifa Haftar, the leading the Libyan National Army (LNA), arrived in Athens on January 16 to hold talks with Greek officials ahead of a conference in Berlin on the Libyan crisis, Milli Gazete said.

Haftar has met Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias on January 17, the media reports said.

Germany has invited the United States, Russia, Turkey, France, Egypt, Britain, and others to the Libya summit. Both British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will attend.

MEPs criticise Nigeria and Burundi

16.01.2020 Strasbourg The European Parliament adopted two resolutions on monitoring respect to the human rights and rule of law situation in Nigeria and Burundi.

Nigeria

Following the recent terrorist attacks in the country, the European Parliament strongly condemns the repeated violations of human rights and international and humanitarian law, ‘’whether based on religion or ethnicity’’. MEPs urge the Nigerian authorities to guarantee respect for human rights and to protect the civilian population from terrorism and violence. The fight against impunity is fundamental to the stability of the country and to building lasting peace, MEPs say.

The situation in Nigeria has significantly deteriorated over the last few years, posing a serious threat to international and regional security. Recent killings are part of a wider series of terrorist acts, including the attack on 24 December 2019 on a village near Chibok that resulted in the death of seven villagers and the kidnapping of a teenage girl.

The text was adopted by show of hands. For more details, the full resolution will be available here (16.01.2020).

Burundi

MEPs strongly condemn the current restrictions on freedom of expression in Burundi, including the limitations placed on public freedom, large-scale violations of human rights, the intimidation and arbitrary arrests of journalists and broadcast bans. They recall that Burundi is bound by the human rights clause of the Cotonou agreement and therefore urge the country’s authorities to immediately revert this abusive trend and to uphold its human rights obligations.

Civil society and journalists play a vital role in a democratic society, MEPs say, particularly in the context of upcoming elections in Burundi. The European Parliament calls on the Burundian authorities to stop intimidating, harassing, and arbitrarily arresting journalists, human rights activists and members of the opposition, including those returning from exile.

Image above: MEP Assita KANKO, Strasbourg Plenary.

EU aid to Africa hunger emergency

The European Commission is mobilising a humanitarian aid package of €22.8 million to help address emergency food needs and support vulnerable people in Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The funding comes as large parts of southern Africa are currently in the grip of their harshest drought in decades.

“Many poor households in drought-affected areas in southern African countries are struggling to have enough food due to crop failure, reduced access to water and, in some places, unaffordable food prices in markets. EU humanitarian aid will help deliver food to those most in need and tackle the hunger crisis in fragile rural communities,” said Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management.

In Zimbabwe, €16.8 million from this aid package will boost food and nutrition assistance, as well as improving access to basic health care, clean water and providing protection to vulnerable people. The remaining amount will be channelled to providing food assistance and nutrition support in Eswatini, Madagascar, Lesotho and Zambia.

The Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region, as a whole, is prone to natural disasters and oscillates between droughts and floods that are destroying harvests and further weakening fragile communities. Since January 2019, the EU has allocated a total of €67.95 million for humanitarian assistance across the region. The bulk of this funding went for emergency relief assistance in the wake of natural disasters (cyclones Idai and Kenneth), food assistance, and helping at-risk communities equip themselves better to face climate-related disasters.

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