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Speech by President Charles Michel on the Accra Initiative Convention Summit, Accra, Ghana

First of all, allow me to thank you, Mr. President Akufo-Addo, dear Nana, for your invitation to speak at this important conference. It’s an honor to be here and I take this invitation as proof of our strong partnership based on trust, mutual respect and friendship.

For years we have been talking about the risk of the terrorist threat spreading from the Sahel to the coastal states. Today it is no longer a risk, but reality. We share the same analysis of the situation. We are well aware of the goals of terrorists: to threaten the existence of your societies and your countries. This situation requires the rapid mobilization of regional partners and the entire international community. Because your fight against terrorism is also our fight.

Mr. Speaker, you have shown great leadership on these issues. I remember your remarks when you chaired the Round Table on Peace and Security at the EU-AU Summit in Brussels last February. You have said that the international community has an obligation to reconsider its strategy and continue its efforts, otherwise we risk losing the progress we have made in effectively countering violent extremist activity. Together we all have to find the best way to make a quick impression on the pitch. We share your goal of focusing the Accra Initiative on operations rather than institutions – it is important to be concrete, tangible, effective and operational.

The European Union believes in African solutions to African problems. We’ve been saying that for many years, and we’ve had the conversation on many fronts. That means, first of all, listening to your analysis and your goals, and listening to your needs – the needs of the frontline states.

The European Union is a key security partner in Africa and we are constantly adapting and modernizing our tools. We have a long-standing commitment. It started in Somalia to support the African Union operation with AMISOM. We have mobilized many instruments in the Sahel over the past decade and we are doing the same to deal with the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique. We are the main political and financial supporter of the African peace and security architecture.

And all of these experiences have allowed us to innovate and learn important lessons. The EU now has a specific instrument, the European Peace Facility, that strengthens our military and defense capabilities. This includes lethal material for defense purposes, which until recently was not legally possible. This is a revolution for the EU. We are also adapting our military and civilian training and advisory operations. We want them to be more flexible and responsive.

The EU wants to be transparent and predictable. We have no hidden intentions. Our goal is well known: to achieve sustainable results. Because the stability and prosperity of the African continent are good for the world and good for Europe. Your leadership is our motto; We are ready to support you. To this end, I am convinced that we can deepen our political dialogue and agree together on the modalities of our cooperation. This will help us clarify what we can do bilaterally and regionally and ensure there is coordination. It can also help us to clarify issues of integrated border management, territorial deployment of state authorities and spatial planning, and economic development of landlocked areas. These must – should – be our common goals.

Ladies and gentlemen, this conference can, if you wish, mark a turning point between the tactical moment and the political moment. They have already initiated operational cooperation, including joint military operations. This conference can be a privileged moment to listen carefully to you and reflect on how best to achieve your operational goals. And this is an opportunity to find the right balance between the regional and national dimensions, between security, politics and socio-economic issues, and I think it’s important to act quickly and effectively. I think that the European Union will be determined to provide strong support without waiting for decisions at the African level, but it is certain that the decisions you make will have an impact on the European Union’s ability to allocate even more resources mobilize tomorrow.

We don’t start from scratch. We already provide extensive support. For the period 2021-2024, 135 million euros are planned for the security and stabilization of the northern regions of the coastal states (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin): border controls, strengthening of intelligence capacities, conflict prevention, infrastructure protection. This indicates an increase of more than 150% compared to the previous period.

Finally I close. You know better than we do that risk factors are not just purely safety-related. And you know the radical group model better than we do. We believe that the attraction that terrorists have for young people, especially marginalized populations, must be prevented and that is why socio-economic development, especially of the northern regions, is so important. We must not allow the vacuum to be filled by these groups, especially on health, education or any social issues. President Talon, the co-chair of the Round Table on Migration, Mobility and Education at the Brussels Summit, recalled that education is the cornerstone of resilient and peaceful societies and at this very moment of development problems in coastal countries for 200 million euros in the take shape in the fields of agriculture, energy or environmental issues. We are ready to work more with you on concrete and operational projects related to these common priorities.

Finally, as you know better than we do, good governance is also a key factor for success, good governance is essential for stability, President Nana reiterated this at the Brussels summit, and above all we must ensure that poisons are avoided of the divisions that would spread within our societies, within our countries, or between us. And here there is an issue that must mobilize us, it is the fight against disinformation, it is the fight against information attacks aimed at instilling the poison of suspicion. More than ever we need unity, cohesion, mutual respect, that goes without saying. I’ll end with a paraphrase from US President John Kennedy: We’re not doing this, he says, because it’s easy, but precisely because it’s not like that . The European Union wants to be a reliable, loyal and predictable partner. You can count on us. We are ready to assist and assist you as best we can. Thank you again for your invitation.

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