Friday, July 1, 2011

Welcoming Address by President of Equatorial Guinea and Chairman of the African Union Obiang Nguema Mbasogo at the 17th African Union Summit

African Union Village, Sipopo

Malabo, Equatorial Guinea

June 30, 2011

The following speech was delivered to delegations to the 17th African Union Summit by President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea, chairman of the African Union.

"It is with great pride and deep satisfaction that the people and the government of Equatorial Guinea, for the first time in their history, welcome the conference of the African Union that has brought into our country so many distinguished political and diplomatic personalities, representing the African continent in particular and the rest of the world in general, who have gathered here to participate in the 17th Summit Conference of the Heads of State and Government of Africa.

It is a favorable opportunity for dialogue and compromise to find adequate solutions to the issues that concern Africa and the world in general. This is a venue where everybody can feel secure and free to express what he or she thinks. This is also an appropriate place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of Bioko Island.

Therefore, we want to welcome our distinguished guests to this beautiful corner of Sipopo that we have named 'The City of the African Union,' so that they can enjoy the best of our hospitality and feel at home, while we apologize for any deficiency that you might observe.

We realize that in this 17th Summit of the African Union, Africa's message will make its impact on the international community, because we affirm that this is no longer a simple regular summit of the African heads of state, but rather, a valuable forum that has called all the world to participate, turning it into a meeting of African leaders with the rest of the international community represented here.

Therefore, this is an occasion that offers great opportunities for a broader dialogue, a direct sharing of views among leaders of the world and a dialogue and communication without intermediaries.

In Equatorial Guinea we have a saying or principle that 'Unity makes strength and strength makes us greater.' The African Union must adopt this principle, which belongs to it, to show that it has its own voice and that it is able to assume responsibilities on the continent and in the international context. We hope that this conference will be more beneficial and inspiring because of the wisdom of its leaders gathered here.

With faith in our common principles, which must unify our standards, and considering the past history of our people, despite the heterogeneous makeup of our cultures, Africa must show itself today more unified and in solidarity when making decisions about important problems that affect the continent, many of which have been placed on the agenda of this summit.

Indeed, this conference takes place at a critical moment for Africa, a situation that tests our unity and cohesion, the solidarity of our states and the leadership of our authorities.

We are aware of the fact that our states and governments are often exposed to pressures created by other countries and personal extra-African interests as well as our own differences, which often reduce the African Union's ability to effectively solve the problems of the continent.

In this regard, I would like to invite all my African colleagues to reinforce our discussions by expressing our firm will.

Principal Themes of the Summit

For the 17th Summit of the African Union, discussion of the following problems of concern, among others, is proposed:

a.) The integration of African youth in the process of sustainable development,

b.) The situation of peace and security on the continent,

c.) The equitable participation of Africa in international institutions and organizations,

d.) The strengthening of the capabilities of the African Union,

e.) Cooperation of Africa with other world partners.

Peace and Security in Africa

The latest decisions concerning conflict resolution, adopted by the 16th Ordinary Summit of the African Union in January of this year, have remained a dead letter and in complete oblivion. Africa has always been and is once again being replaced by extra-African agents that have no intention whatsoever of engaging in dialogue to recognize and appreciate the spirit and will of Africa.

We welcome the fact that, as we pointed out earlier, dignitaries from many states of the international community are participating in this summit. Politically, Africa is no longer a dependency of any international organization.

Africa does not aspire to resolve the problems of Europe, Asia, or America but to solve its own problems. Africa has never been a conquering continent or colonizer, let alone an exploiter. Its struggle has always been to shake off and reject these political trends of which it has been victim and that subjugate peoples.

Nevertheless, as an international political entity, Africa contributes, together with others, in cooperation for development and the maintenance of peace and security in the world.

As a result of these imposed policies, interventions for humanitarian reasons are currently causing a massive scourge to humanity in some parts of the world. The many victims, among them women and children, the displaced people, and the destruction of economic infrastructures do not justify these interventions. The result is that instead of resolving the conflicts of the world, we are complicating and worsening them.

Africa desires that countries and organizations from outside Africa that have the power to use force not intervene to resolve African conflicts without a previous consensus with Africa, because presumably they could violate international law and the sovereignty of states.

The African Union has never advocated war, but rather, dialogue for the solution of international conflicts, because war results in destruction and calamity.

In this context, we celebrate the fact that the parties involved in the conflicts in Sudan and Somalia have accepted negotiated solutions, and we appeal to them to respect the terms of these agreements.

The peace and security of states is not only guaranteed with theoretical formulas of democracy, freedom of expression, and other ideas that supposedly guarantee political rights. In fact, the stability of a country depends fundamentally on the availability of economic resources that sustain the lives of its people, that enable access to education, health services, potable water, environmental development, and other conditions that give dignity to man.

We regret having to recognize that most African countries are still built on inflexible foundations that do not give citizens access to these indispensable services, to guarantee peace and stability on the continent. 'An empty sack cannot stand on its own,' a situation that we together, Africa and the developed world, must resolve as a shared political and moral obligation, offering sincere assistance to economically weak states.

However, underdevelopment does not allow African leaders to exempt themselves from the responsibility to adopt effective mechanisms to guarantee the peace and security of their nations, one more thing to keep in mind when they make decisions that affect them.

Integration of Youth

With regard to the topic related to the rapid integration of youth in the process of sustainable development, undoubtedly our young people, as legitimate inheritors of the future of our continent, should have access to all knowledge, technology, and experience to prepare them as the successor generation, a role that they must naturally assume.

For us, young people are not a problem for society, although according to many negative theories, the increase in the youth population constitutes an economic and human problem, and others swear that the young are a danger for the preservation of cultural values.

But in Equatorial Guinea, we believe that young people are the determining factor in the development process of a society. They are a live force capable of creating innovation and spurring development in the country in general.

That is why, in the First National youth Conference, held in Bata in July 2010, which acquired international recognition, the government was advised to adopt policies that facilitate access for young people to all of the political, economic, social, and cultural rights that all human beings have.

Within this framework, and in order to adequately take advantage of the capabilities of young people, governments must establish systems and mechanisms that allow young people access to training, new technology, employment, participation in public life, and social integration without any kind of discrimination.

We support the efforts of the African Union as it deals with the issue of the integration of African youth. The need to create an African Union Voluntary Youth Corps was agreed at the last summit in Abuja as an instrument to mobilize youth in order to reach the Millennium goals adopted by the United Nations.

This Youth Corps should now be institutionalized in order to structure its actions.

With regard to such institutionalization, the government of Equatorial Guinea proposes the creation of a headquarters for the institution.

As the city in which this subject was discussed, and with the goal of overcoming obstacles to its financing, with your indulgence, we ask that the headquarters of the Youth Corps be located in this new City of the African Union.

In another area, the Arab Spring, reproduced in some European states, with revolutions claiming rights against the regimes in power, cannot be considered a negative attitude of young people when those claims are just and necessary.

It is a natural positive attitude that characterizes youth, as opposed to the passivity or pact of silence that the adult population frequently adopts in similar cases.

Nevertheless, it's worth keeping in mind here the agents accustomed to manipulating the innocence of and good faith of youth and of inexperienced people, to unnecessarily provoke sterile revolutions that have no other end but realizing personal political ambitions.

This is the case of my country, Equatorial Guinea, which is victimized and besieged by a systematic campaign of disinformation by these agents. It is clear that we are not perfect, but we are perfectible, and we are doing all that we can possibly do.

Cooperation with Other World Partners

Today, Africa maintains different kinds of cooperation with various partners in the four other continents of the world, to the point that today Africa has become the 'apple of discord' or the beautiful girl that everyone wants to get to know.

If Africa does not firmly maintain its political personality and economic capacity, we believe the result of all this cooperation would inevitably be a new impoverishment for its people.

Upgrading the Institutions of the African Union

Africa's development should begin with Africans. Partners from the international community are just cooperators that in the end have as a reward the fulfillment of their own interests in cooperation. Therefore, without rejecting financing from outside Africa, our states must assume the responsibility to finance our common institutions if we want to strengthen their capacity.

It is a fundamental matter of pride, if we want to avoid the interference that we are subject to and obtain equal treatment in international economic relations. There is a saying: 'He who divides and shares always takes the bigger share.' Therefore, he who pays calls the shots.

In conclusion, esteemed Chiefs of State and Heads of Delegation, we are sure that the past provides valuable lessons for the present and the future. The African Union Summit should be a new starting point that leads to a maturation of our institution, to the unity of Africa, and to the solidarity for the governments and their peoples.

I wish you great success at this summit, and may God protect Africa."