Then Moroccan Ambasssador to Ireland, H.E. Anas Khales, spoke at the launch of Black History Month, 02 October 2014, at European Union House, Dawson Street, in his role as Dean of African Ambassadors
Thank you, Zeph. [Zephrynus Ikeh, founder of Black History Month Ireland.]
Ladies and gentlemen I am dean of the African diplomatic corp and on behalf of colleagues – all the African ambassadors, here there are seven of us in Ireland – I would like first to express my sincere appreciation to the organisers of the Black History Month Ireland for their invitation and the honour to launch this celebration. This event can merely be of great help enhancing the image of the African continent and we would hope to improve further cooperation between Africa and Europe. My appreciation goes as well to the African diaspora for their initiative, for their activism and devotion to progress with their life away from home, far away from home, while seeking their African identity, cultural heritage and tradition in a rapidly changing society. I congratulate you and I still have in mind the African group who was yesterday in the Nigerian embassy all the time entertaining the foreigners coming to visit us for the National Day of Nigeria which is all the Africans’ day.
In fact, when I have been told that I would have to speak about Europe’s relationship with Africa, I was a little bit concerned. Europe’s relationship with Africa is deeply rooted in issues and has gradually evolved into a strong partnership. This is a difficult issue to address today with forty-eight hours notice. But I will try to the best of my ability and we will be better next year!
In this speech I would like to shed light on some main points in the historical background of the relationship between Africa and Europe.
Africa and Europe are interconnected, bound together by history, by culture – I am only nine miles from you, in Morocco. But the relationship between these two continents, to me, remains both unequal and unequitable. There has been little transformation with a view to tightening somehow the relationship between the two continents since colonial times. The net flow of resources into Europe and Africa remains, still remains, in Europe’s favour. Whether through unequal terms of trade, debt servicing, or macroeconomic policies that have promoted the extraction of Africa’s resources for external benefit while marginalising – most of the time – the majority of African people. The European Union has been trying to achieve its longterm goals through partnership and cooperation with other global partners. Africa has been the first and only multilateral entity with which the EU has formed a longterm partnership.
The Africa-EU partnership is now, today, a traditional form of partnership which has gestated over a long period of time to reach an institutionally settled, it has undergone through a series of internal meetings, implementation skill, joint expert groups and summits of heads of state between the two partners. This partnership was structured through the initialisation of dialogue by the historic first Africa-EU summit, held in Cairo in the year 2000. This event launched at the time a more structured dialogue between the EU and Africa – in particular through regular meetings between senior officials. It was the first meeting at this level between European and African leaders where both sides expressed their commitment to come together and give a new dimension to this partnership. The first Africa-EU summit launched a comprehensive framework for political dialogue between the EU and Africa, and a plan of action in the following priority period:
regional integration in Africa, integration of Africa into the world economy, human rights, democratic principles and institutions, good governance, peace building, conflict prevention and development issues.
In fact, and in response to the multiple considerable changes that have taken place on both continents, and to the new international and global challenges, there was a need for a new phase in the Africa Europe relationship. A necessity to forge a new and stronger partnership that built on the new identity and the renewing institutions, capitalise on the lessons of the past and provide a solid framework for longterm systematic and well integrated cooperation.
Ladies and gentlemen, it was in this period that African and European leaders – as well as the president of the European institutions – came together on the Second Africa EU summit held in December 2007 in Lisbon Portugal, to put their relations on a new footing and to establish a strategic partnership based upon a strong political relationship and close cooperation.
This continued in the year 2010, in Tripoli Libya, and also in Brussels this year, the 2 and the 3 of April, on the theme of Investment in People, Prosperity and Peace. So, committed to an enhanced Africa-EU cooperation for the years to come, the concern that the joint Africa-EU strategy, adopted at the Lisbon Summit in 2007, setting out the vision, values and principles to which we are all committed remains the strategy.
Ladies and gentlemen, what is needed today is – maybe – a more mature relationship. One that is based on understanding the changing dynamic of both partners and one agrees that it is a partnership of equals.
Europe and Africa have, to be clear, on their agenda defined their expectations and priorities, according to agreed values, principles and interests. The shift in the international balance of power places Africa in a better position to revise its partnerships, to make them more effective. The challenge will be to translate the new vision into action.
In an ever-changing world, Africa and Europe will remain each other’s closest neighbours. In this setup, both sides are determined to overcome the traditional donor-recipient relationship and to develop a shared longterm vision for EU-Africa relations in a globalised world, where they have many common interests on issues such as climate change, global security and the post-2015 development agenda.
May I conclude these few words by what King Mohammed VI of Morocco said last week at the 69th session of the General Assembly:
“There can be no stability without development. By the same token, development cannot be achieved without stability. Both hinge on respect for the sovereignty of states, their territorial integrity, culture and customs, as well as on a dignified life for their citizens. Africa does not need humanitarian aid as much as Africa needs mutually beneficial partnerships.”