German President Critiques EU Double Standard on Africa | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 05.11.2007
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German President Critiques EU Double Standard on Africa

At the close of an Africa conference, German President Horst Köhler accused industrialized countries of having a double standard towards Africa. He urged support for controversial European-African economic accords.

Köhler (right,) with President Armando E. Guebuza of Mozambique (far left) and President Festus G. Mogae of Botswana

Köhler (right) has a long-held interest in Africa

Addressing attendees at a conference held near Frankfurt, Germany on Sunday, Köhler said industrial countries are often unfair when it comes to working out trade policy, migration issues, fishing contracts and resource usage in Africa.

An armed child-soldier in Sudan

Europe should not just sit idly by amid African crises, Köhler said.

"We in the northern hemisphere have to change our thinking," said Köhler, who has made fighting poverty in Africa a focus of his tenure. This was the third presidential conference on Africa held by Köhler, who formerly headed the International Monetary Fund in Washington.

He urged industrial countries not to just sit by and watch as African countries face one crisis after the other.

"Africa was always the object of other nations' expansive ideas," Köhler told attendees. He warned above all against exploiting the continent's resources. "To steamroll the continent once more would be a historical failure," he said.

Support for EPAs

Köhler on a visit to Benin greeting schoolchildren

For Köhler, Africa has long been an important policy point

Köhler argued on behalf of the controversial Economic Partnership Agreements between Europe and Africa, saying they are in everyone's best interest.

He urged African states to clarify their criticisms of the agreement plans and said the EU should create better fair-trade conditions for its African partners.

Köhler also said Africa should continue to develop the African Union into a political entity similar to the EU, in order to prevent industrial nations' attempts to divide the African Union by signing trade deals with individual countries.

Increasingly interdependent world

Moreover, he said, accords between individual nations are losing their meaning in a world where issues including climate change, AIDS, and migration mean countries are increasingly interdependent.

The two-day Africa conference was attended by 44 top officials, politicians and Africa experts, including the presidents of Botswana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Benin and Nigeria.

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