German president urges greater cooperation on Senegal trip
February 22, 2022
Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall discussed military and scientific partnerships in a region racked by terrorism and a wave of military coups.
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for greater cooperation between Europe and Senegal on Monday as President Macky Sall welcomed him to the capital Dakar with military honors to kick off a three-day trip to the West African nation.
"For all the differences that exist: We must find the way to a closer, fruitful partnership," Steinmeier said after talks with President Sall as he praised the nation for its "key" role as a stable democracy in the region.
Steinmeier added that he hoped to facilitate a "new impetus to the long-standing close partnership between Germany and Senegal."
Sall, as the current chair of the African Union (AU), had spoken about the situation in Mali at length with EU partners in Brussels last week when France announced it would be withdrawing troops in the wake of a military coup there that looks set to cement the power of the ruling junta.
But France's announcement last week cast the future of Germany's military engagement into doubt. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht is "skeptical" about continued participation in the EU training mission and has questioned whether Germany should remain committed to MINUSMA without French support.
A final decision on the deployment of Bundeswehr soldiers to the region rests with Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, which is scheduled to vote on extending the country's participation in both missions in May.
Neighboring Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic insurgency that began in 2012 before spreading to Burkina Faso and Niger and triggering a wider destabilization in the region. One reaction has been a wave of military coups across the region.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and around two million people displaced by the Sahel-wide conflict with jihadists.
France pulls troops out of Mali
Vaccine cooperation between the EU and Africa
One other major topic of conversation between the two politicians was that of vaccine assistance. Africa has long bemoaned the EU's lack of help when it comes to supplying vaccines against the coronavirus, and more precisely, its refusal to waive patents governing vaccine production.
President Sall was quick to emphasize that Africans are not looking for vaccine handouts, but rather want to be able to make their own jabs.
Steinmeier, who will visit the site of the new BioNTech facility on Tuesday, said the project, coordinated with the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, could make "vaccines produced for Africa in Africa" a reality.
Steinmeier also laid the cornerstone of Germany's new Goethe Institute in Dakar Monday. He is only the second German president to make a state visit to Senegal, the first being Heinrich Lübke in 1962.