Saturday

31st Oct 2020

Borrell: Africa 'needs guns' for stability

The European Union says more guns are needed in Africa to stop terrorism as part of a broader effort to create jobs and growth.

"We need guns, we need arms, we need military capacities and that is what we are going to help provide to our African friends because their security is our security," said the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"We are not going to grow, we are not going to invest, we are not going to create jobs without stability," he said, adding solutions must be African in nature and that the EU is ready to help.

Borrell made the comments on Thursday (27 February) in Ethiopia's capital city Addis Ababa as some 22 European Commissioners meet with their African counterparts to kick start and vamp up relations.

The European Commission is set to unveil its strategy on Africa with president Ursula von der Leyen seeking input from the African Union.

Part of those talks involve security and peace, seen as one of the guiding principles between the two sides as conflict spirals out of control in places like Libya and the Sahel.

"It is of upmost importance to enable and empower the African Union and African member states to defend their home country," said Von der Leyen.

The Sahel, an African region south of the Sahara, is a large as Europe. Some 4,500 French troops were deployed in the region shortly after Libya's collapse in 2011, due, in part, to an intense bombing campaign by Nato forces.

The ensuing turmoil in Libya helped generate a massive flow of weapons to Mali, which in turn is fuelling the world's fastest-growing Islamist-led insurgency there.

Islamists linked to al-Qaida had seized control of Timbuktu in 2012, as well as other towns in northern Mali. The French moved into to stop them in early 2013.

Stuck in the barracks

Borrell then seemed to complain that the EU's presence in the Sahel is limited and constrained.

"We the European Union, our missions are mainly training missions, we are not fighting missions, we are not even peace-keeping missions. We are not in the field, we are in the barracks. We are just in Mali, Niger, we are not in Burkina Faso," he said.

He noted some 70 percent of the territory of Burkina Faso is no longer in government hands, large swathes of the population displaced, and that 14,000 schools have been closed due to conflict.

He then made reference to the so-called European Peace Facility, an instrument critics say risk fuelling more instability in the region.

The facility would, for the first time ever, grant the EU the ability to supply outside 'partner' countries and regional military operations with lethal weapons and ammunition.

The whole would fall under the aegis of Borrell, who appears eager to use the new found powers.

Others say success in the region will never be achieved. Among them is the chief of staff of the French armed forces, General François Lecointre.

"We will never achieve final victory," he told French public radio in an interview late November.

Doubts over using EU 'peace fund' to supply arms to Africa

EU ambassadors met behind closed doors in Brussels to discuss the possibility of providing arms and ammunition to foreign armies in conflict areas like Mali. Not all were impressed by French-German support for a new EU 'peace fund'.

Feature

Promises and doubts: Africa's free-trade adventure

The EU is hoping that a continent-wide free trade agreement in Africa will help lift millions out of poverty and help solve issues of security and migration. But its message of values and equal partnership do not resonate with everyone.

Opinion

EU development policy needs a fresh start

As the European Commission meets the African Union in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on Thursday, prior to a new EU-Africa strategy, the obsolete donor-recipient mentality must be junked, writes European Parliament development committee chairman Tomas Tobé MEP.

Agenda

EU-Africa strategy and circular economy plan This WEEK

The European Commission is set to unveil the EU-Africa and the circular economy strategy this week. Additionally, MEPs will hold the plenary session in Brussels after the president David Sassoli cancelled the plenary in Strasbourg due to the coronavirus outbreak.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Column

A 'geopolitical' EU Commission. Great idea - but when?

Safeguarding Europe's position starts with recognising the unpleasant reality that Europe's power is waning. Behind the facade of European cooperation, national self-interest still predominates and that has never been any different.

Rightwing MEPs bend to Saudi will after Khashoggi death

Saudi dissident and journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed two years ago on 2 October. Since then, mainly centre-right, conservative and far-right MEPs have voted down any moves to restrict, limit or ban the sales of weapons to the Saudi regime.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us