Friday, 10 October 2008

Africa-EU Ministerial Troika meeting in Brussels
The 10th Africa-EU Ministerial Troika meeting was held in Brussels on 16 September, the first such meeting since the Africa-EU Summit in Lisbon last December. Discussions revolved round the progress on implementation of the Action Plan of the EU-Africa Joint Strategy adopted in Lisbon . The meeting also reviewed current international problems ranging from conflict situations in both Europe and Africa to the global food and oil price crises. The meeting reiterated support to the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia and welcomed the recent agreement signed between the TFG and opposition ARS in Djibouti under the aegis of the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General. It also welcomed the ‘Road Map’, signed in Addis Ababa on August 26, for the implementation of the understanding between the leaders of Somalia ’s Transitional Federal Institutions. The ministers welcomed the EU’s commitment to contribute to the fight against piracy along the coast of Somalia . Highlighting the responsibility of the UN for international peace and security, the EU also took note of Africa's concern regarding the necessity for the UN to deploy an international peace keeping force in Somalia .

The observations and conclusions of the joint ministerial Troika on Somalia were positive and consistent with the spirit of partnership being forged between Africa and Europe . The two sides underlined their commitment to continue the deployment of AMISOM, and called for the international community to reinforce its support for the African Union's effort in Somalia , particularly within the framework of the UN. This is, undoubtedly, welcome solidarity and support for the Somali people. However, this spirit of partnership also needs to be followed by more vigorous action on the ground. It must be underlined that time is a critical factor in all these efforts. While at the end of the day, it is the responsibility of the Somali people and Somali political actors to decide the destiny of their nation, nevertheless the concerted and timely support of the international community remains crucial.

Significantly, for the first time the EU briefed the meeting about conflict situations in Europe ; on previous occasions, briefings about these have always been one-way affairs. On the crisis over food and oil prices, the joint Troika expressed concern over the impact of the high prices on low income food-deficit and oil net-importing countries, and the adverse effect on the achievement of the MDGs. In this regard, the joint Troika reminded donor nations of the need to realize their pledges made at such international forums as the G8 summit at Gleneagles and at this year’s Hokkaido G-8 summit. Climate change and migration were also on the agenda.