Germany's foreign minister, Guido Westerwelle, addressed an AU summit in Kampala, urging Africa to unify and take its place on the world stage. He said Germany wanted to see Africa realize its economic potential.
Westerwelle urged African leaders to band together
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle has stressed Germany's desire for economic and political partnerships with African nations - as well as reiterating Berlin's obligations to the continent.
Addressing the African Union (AU) on Thursday in the Ugandan capital Kampala, Westerwelle referred to Africa as a "continent of opportunities." He urged African countries to band together in order to stabilize volatile political situations in Somalia and Sudan, and to better represent their own interests on the world stage.
An increasing interest in African affairs
Westerwelle, who became the first German foreign minister to address the 53-country AU, told Deutsche Welle that Germany had "a great interest in Africa's global image changing."
Islamist radicals killed over 70 soccer fans this month in Kampala
Deutsche Welle's African affairs analyst, Ludger Schadomsky, said Westerwelle's address demonstrated an "increasing interest in African affairs."
Schadomsky explained that Germany had been "instrumental in supporting the Peace and Security Commission, the core body of the African Union in terms of capacity building," as well as in the "training of Somali army personal in Uganda."
Promoting political stability
While the summit was originally meant to address health concerns, focus quickly shifted to political stabilization of the continent in the wake of a deadly suicide attack in the Ugandan capital earlier this month.
In retaliation for Uganda's deployment of 3,000 soldiers to Somalia, Islamist radicals committed dual suicide bombings on July 11, killing over 70 soccer fans while they watched a World Cup match. Westerwelle, who had earlier laid a wreath at one of the bomb sites, called for greater AU intervention in Somalia - a country largely controlled by Islamist militias since the early 1990s.
Westerwelle warned that political chaos in Somalia posed "dangers for the whole world," that "the whole issue of piracy has to do with the state's lack of control."
"That damages not only German trade interests, but the trade interests of all countries," he said. "Allowing Somalia to drift farther down this path will create a breeding ground for terrorism, and that's why I welcome the African Union's action in stabilizing and rebuilding Somalia."
Somalia has become a breeding ground for pirates
'Africa to join the world stage'
Westerwelle praised the AU for placing peacekeeping troops in Somalia and the West-Sudanese conflict region Darfur, breaking the non-interference policies of the Organization of African Unity, the African Union's predecessor.
However, other than increasing aid to Somalia by one million euros ($1.3 million), Germany's Foreign Minister made no new aid commitments to the AU. Prior to the summit, Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni had advocated increasing the number of AU peacekeeping troops in Somalia from 5,000 to 20,000.
Westerwelle stressed that “Africa taking its future into its own hands" was "far more crucial than any aid money flowing from Europe." He said a unified approach would help increase Africa's global standing.
Germany's Foreign Minister also called for the African Union to have its own permanent seat on the UN Security Council - alongside China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the US.
Westerwelle also said he believed Africa has a great deal of potential to realize.
"We want to be there when this continent comes into its own economically and politically, when it takes advantage of its opportunities," the foreign minister said. "Germany wants to be a part of that - it's also in our own interest."
Meeting Africa's potential
Though Ludger Schadomsky is skeptical on the possibility of Africa having a permanent seat at the UN Security Council, he did comment that Westerwelle's visit "came at the right time and certainly went down very well with the hosts."
The world turned its gaze to South Africa this summer as it hosted the World Cup
"Africans have always been keen for Germany to play a greater role. Obviously the important thing is to sustain this initiative," Schadomsky said.
To that end, Westerwelle promised that, after summer break, German parliament would pass a so-called "Africa Concept"- measures taking into account Africa's "security, social, economic and environmental challenges" as well as its "great developmental potential."
He promsied that, should the Africa rise to meet that potential, as South Africa had already done, Germany would be first in line to form new economic partnerships.
Author: Daniel Pelz (David Levitz)
Editor: Mark Hallam