Luxembourg, 15 June 2010 – COMMUNIQUÉ
1. The Seventeenth Political Dialogue at Ministerial Level between the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union was held in Luxembourg on 15 June 2010 under the Co–Chairmanship of H.E. H. Odein Ajumogobia, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and H.E. Miguel Ángel Moratinos Cuyaubé, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain on behalf of the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, H.E. Catherine Ashton.
2. The ECOWAS delegation further included H.E. James Victor Gbeho, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Colonel Mahamane Toure, Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mr. Alhaji Mohammed Daramy, Commissioner, Trade, Custom, Industry and Free Movement, H.E. Adamu Abbas, Under- Secretary for African Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and Mr. Vincent Zakane, Director of Cabinet, representing Burkina Faso. The EU delegation further included Ms. Carmen de la Peña, Director General for Africa, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain, Mr. Christian Leffler, Deputy Director- General for Development and relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries and Development, European Commission and Mr. José Costa Pereira, Head of Unit, Africa Task Force, General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. H.E. Said Djinnit, Special Representative of the UNSG, United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWA), Mr. Jean Luc Senou, Resident Representative of the UEMOA Commission in Brussels and Mr. Sheik Niang, Chargé d’affaires, Embassy of the African Union, also attended the meeting as observers.
3. In their opening statements, the Co-Chairpersons highlighted the increasing usefulness of EU-ECOWAS dialogue, which has become a building block of the EU-African relations. This is particularly important in the run up to the upcoming 3rd EU-Africa Summit in November 2010, where African and European partners will take stock of achievements to date and plan the next most important steps ahead.
POLITICAL AND INSTITUTIONAL DEVELOPMENTS IN ECOWAS AND THE EU
4. The Parties took note of the changes brought about by the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. The establishment of the European External Action Service will provide increased coherence to the EU’s external action and therefore should result in further impetus for the EU-ECOWAS relationship. The format of our partnership, which has proved highly effective, will remain unchanged even though the EU representation will be simplified.
5. The Parties also noted the changes in ECOWAS leadership. In that context the EU congratulated once again H.E. James Victor Gbeho for his nomination as President of the ECOWAS Commission and reiterated its firm determination to deepen and further develop the excellent cooperation achieved with former President Mohamed Ibn Chambas.
PEACE AND SECURITY
6. The Parties welcomed the general improvement in peace and security environment in the ECOWAS region in recent times, occasioned by encouraging results in the restoration and consolidation of democracy, and national reconciliation processes.
7. The two Parties, however, expressed mutual concern about the persisting fragility of the region characterised by some reversals in the democratisation processes caused by instances of constitutional manipulation; military incursion into politics; brazen acts of impunity by some militaries; and the impacts of drug trafficking and other forms of transnational organised crime. In this regard, both pledged to maintain vigilance and scale up their efforts to defend the gains of the democratisation processes, combat criminality and mitigate the effects of food insecurity in West Africa.
8. ECOWAS and the EU commended the efforts by the political class and all the other stakeholders in the transition to return the country to constitutional rule and in particular the leadership of the Interim Head of State, General Sékouba Konaté within the framework of the Joint Declaration of Ouagadougou of 15 January 2010. In this regard, the Parties welcomed the setting of a firm date of 27 June 2010 for the presidential elections and the concrete steps being taken to prepare the country for these elections.
9. Both Parties expressed satisfaction with the unity of purpose demonstrated by the EU, ECOWAS and the rest of the international community, and the measures being taken by them within the framework of the International Contact Group, to support the transition. They also renewed their gratitude to the ECOWAS Mediator, President Blaise Compaoré, in this regard and for his continued support to the process through his special representative in Guinea, General Ali Traoré.
10. They urged all stakeholders in the electoral process to refrain from all acts liable to jeopardise the transitional process and welcomed all international efforts in that sense.
11. The Parties commended the submission of the report of the joint ECOWAS/EU/UN assessment mission on SSR led by General Cissé and expressed their commitment to accompany the Government of Guinea in the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report. The European Union announced the continued gradual resumption of its development cooperation under article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement , in line with the agreed scheme of mutual commitments.
12. They welcomed the opening of an Office of the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights in Conakry, as a measure to further enhance the efforts of the country considering the fight against impunity as an indispensable prerequisite for the achievement of sustainable peace and stability.
13. The EU and ECOWAS expressed serious concern about the rapidly deteriorating political and security situation in Guinea Bissau characterised by the persistent undermining of the political authorities by the military and the latter’s indiscipline vis-à-vis the elected civilian authorities, worsening drug trafficking and the extreme fragility of governance institutions.
14. The Parties renewed their deep concern about the incidents of 1 April 2010, including the violation of the UN compound, the illegal arrest and manhandling of the Prime Minister and the Chief of Defence Staff, and the continued detention of the latter. Both Parties demanded tangible progress in the current political-military impasse in the country and urged the authorities of Guinea Bissau to solve all the continued irregular situations generated by the crisis in conformity with constitutional provisions and the principle of rule of law.
15. The Parties expressed their commitment to accompanying the authorities to put an end to impunity and to shed full light on the events of 1 April 2010, as well on the assassinations of March and June 2009. They agreed to explore the possibility of targeted sanctions against those responsible for continued instability and clear violations of the constitutional and legal framework, as well as international law.
16. ECOWAS and the EU called on the national authorities to put in place an appropriate framework for the effective implementation of all aspects of the reform of the security sector. In this context, they welcomed the recent approval by the National Assembly of central elements of the legislative package of the reform and the work of the EU mission on SSR.
17. ECOWAS and the EU reiterated their commitment to support Guinea Bissau in the ongoing reform process, the reform of the security sector being at its core. ECOWAS underscored the urgency of mobilising adequate financial resources before the end of 2010 implementing the quick impact projects identified by the ECOWAS-AU mission together with the authorities of Guinea Bissau, including the setting up of a pension fund for the military, the improvement of the conditions in the barracks, the restructuring and reorientation of the Armed Forces, and the establishment of a mechanism to secure and protect republican institutions. The EU welcomed the information provided by ECOWAS.
18. The Parties welcomed the decision by the AU to open an office and appoint a Special Representative in Guinea Bissau.
19. The Parties expressed their deep preoccupation with the grave impacts of drug trafficking and other forms of organised crime on the political and security environment in the country and their cascading effects in the ECOWAS region. They agreed on the need to explore and exploit synergies between all national and international partners to support the immediate implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Action Plan on Drug Trafficking, including the building and sustenance of regional and national capacities, as well as the strengthening of cooperation between the source, transit and destination countries, to confront the scourge. The EU side reaffirmed its continued political and financial support for the Praia Regional Action Plan.
20. The Parties expressed their mutual disquiet with the lack of progress in the effective implementation of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement and its supplements, in particular the repeated postponement of the crucial presidential elections. In this regard, they underlined the expectation that the authorities in Cote d’Ivoire would prioritise the holding of credible elections as a necessary precondition for the consolidation of national reconciliation and political stability in the country.
21. Both Parties welcomed the pledge by President Laurent Gbagbo to organise the elections before the end of 2010, and encouraged him to set a firm date for them. They called on him to complete as soon as possible the direct dialogue initiatives with the major political stakeholders to agree on a framework to resolve the lingering dispute over the voter’s register, and capitalise on the 50th independence anniversary celebration to foster national consensus. The Parties expressed full support and appreciation for the Facilitator of the Inter-Ivorian Dialogue, President Blaise Compaoré.
22. The Parties welcomed the establishment of inclusive institutions for the transition, representing all political elements in Niger, the adoption of a consensual electoral code and establishment of a National Independent Election Commission (CENI). They also welcomed the adoption of a roadmap which, by means of a number of electoral steps, paves the way for the establishment of a new constitutional framework and new democratically elected authorities. Finally, the Parties noted the commitment made by members of the Supreme Council for Restoration of Democracy (CSRD) and the government established in February 2010 to manage the transition, that they will not stand for election and that they will hand over power at the end of the transitional period, planned for March 2011.
23. The EU referred to the positive outcome of the 26 May 2010 consultations under Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, as well as to the need to ensure full compliance with the commitments undertaken by Niger, following which the EU would consider accompanying the process with gradual and sustained resumption of cooperation.
24. The ECOWAS side informed the EU Party about its mission to Niger in May 2010 to express satisfaction with the authorities over the transition arrangement and to encourage them to fulfill their pledge to hand over power to a democratically elected President on 1 March 2011.
25. With regard to the current food crisis and the risk of famine in Niger, both Parties exchanged information about the steps being taken to coordinate humanitarian assistance to alleviate the suffering of the population, particularly the most vulnerable. The Parties also urged the rest of the international community to take all necessary additional measures to assist Niger in overcoming the impacts of the food crisis.