Speaking at the headquarters of the African Union (AU) in Ethiopia, Merkel welcomed the fact that the importance of this body has increased dramatically since it was founded five years ago. "The founding of the African Union was a historical step," declared the Chancellor.
Under the leadership of South Africa, Nigeria and now Ghana, the AU has become a central forum for the growing political identity of the African nations. "It has become an important partner for the international community," said Merkel. The European Union (EU) and the African Union aim to further expand their partnership.
"We are interested in a genuine partnership"
The Chancellor stressed the great interest of both the EU and the G8 states in intensive cooperation with the states of Africa. "Africa is at the heart of our development policy," said the Chancellor.
As the Chancellor sees it, cooperation as partners means understanding, but the African states must also accept responsibility for the necessary reforms on their continent. "The basis for development and successful poverty reduction lies in Africa itself – in the willingness of Africa to undertake reforms".
More than fifty percent of development assistance for Africa comes from the EU and its member states. "Today, we have the opportunity to remodel cooperation between the EU and Africa," said the Chancellor, "to go well beyond classical development assistance." She announced a conference of investors in Africa to be held at the end of the year.
Merkel is convinced that a robust partnership is in the interests of both sides. "We can only tackle most problems and challenges together," she declared. The EU's Africa strategy, drafted under the German Presidency, embraces global issues such as climate protection, energy policy and the war on terrorism, alongside classical development policy. The new-look Africa policy also involves more than contacts at governmental level. "We want to get the people involved, and to foster understanding," explained the Chancellor, laying out the goals of the new dialogue.
Merkel was calmly confident that the new Africa strategy will be adopted at the EU summit meeting to be held in Lisbon in December.
Germany and the G8 will honour their pledges
"The G8 nations want Africa to be in a position to make the most of the opportunities offered by globalisation," declared Merkel, in her capacity as acting chairperson of the G8 states. At the Heiligendamm summit, the G8 reaffirmed the far-reaching pledges first made two years earlier in Gleneagles. "We can take political action to shape globalisation. An active involvement in globalisation will lead to higher growth and thus open the door to greater prosperity," said Merkel.
Germany too will meet its commitments – and provide an additional 3 billion euros for development assistance by 2011, stressed Merkel. One focus will be on the health sector. "The scale of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria in Africa is a humanitarian disaster," said the Chancellor. These scourges cause endless suffering and are a major constraint to the development of entire nations.
The industrial countries must also support developing countries in adjusting to climate change and protecting their forests. "Investment and technology transfer are needed on an unprecedented scale," said Merkel. In future, power supplies will be based to a large extent on renewables such as solar and wind power. "Africa can and must benefit from this," she declared.
Generating prosperity on the basis of shared values
Merkel emphasised the fact that the partnership between the G8 states and Africa is a partnership for reform. "It is based on shared values such as respect for universal human rights, democracy and the rule of law," she stated.
The Chancellor drew the attention of her audience to the major commitment of churches and non-governmental organisations in Germany. Many Germans are deeply concerned about the fate of Africa, she explained.
She attaches special importance to cooperation with NEPAD, the New Partnership for Africa's Development, which aims to bring about specific reforms, and achieve transparency and good governance.
The continent is still seeking its own way forward into the 21st century, said Merkel. The efforts of many states to achieve ownership, democracy, stability and social justice are already bearing fruit.
"Things are on the move in Africa," said Angela Merkel confidently to her African audience. For some years now there has been a clear trend towards, "fewer conflicts, more democratic elections and peaceful changes of power".
The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) is the development programme of the African Union. Great hopes are vested in the programme, launched in 2001, both inside and outside Africa. With the NEPAD initiative, the African states recognise the preconditions for economic growth, sustainable development and success in the fight against poverty – peace and security, good governance, democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights.
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