EU-African Union ministerial meeting in Kigali
First of all, I would like to thank Rwanda and Minister Vincent Biruta for hosting us, as well as our Co-Presidents Josep Borrell and Christophe Lutundula, for organising this meeting.
I will address two points in particular.
Chairs, with regard to the theme of ‘Peace, security and governance’, I think it is relevant, as the African Union's framework memorandum invites us to do, to look at the role of the State at a time when it is coming under increasing pressure.
The legitimacy and transparency of the State and the institutions that depend on it are guarantees of lasting stability and therefore security.
Policy issues, respect for the rule of law and human rights are therefore at the heart of this issue.
In this regard, I regret that the issue of combatting impunity, which is essential in this equation, is missing from the final communiqué.
These affairs actively contribute to breaking the cycle of violence and are a crucial step towards reconciliation. Belgium will continue to stress its importance, just as this country remains committed to sexual and reproductive rights.
On the other hand, I am satisfied with the mobilisation of our two Unions in favour of transitional justice.
Commissioner Bankole recalled this concrete commitment on 6 October at a seminar jointly organised by Belgium and the African Union.
Transitional justice makes it possible to “win the peace”, as the experience in Rwanda brilliantly demonstrates. I hope that our synergies in this area will deepen. Belgium is prepared to contribute to this in the framework of its future multilateral mandates.
I also agree with Josep Borrell and my colleague, Jean-Yves Le Drian, on the possibility of sending a joint message today on the situation in Sudan.
I think it is also appropriate to take stock of our joint efforts to combat COVID-19.
The global vaccination campaign is too slow and too asymmetrical, despite the many contributions to COVAX.
We need to speed up distribution and increase vaccine production to support local efforts. I want to see some progress on both counts between now and the EU-AU summit.
Belgium is a “vaccine country” and is actively participating in the global effort. By early 2022, we should have reached the threshold of one billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine delivered.
Belgium is also supporting the production of vaccines in Africa.
Despite its undeniable benefits, vaccination is an ongoing challenge. In order to address this in practice, Belgium is currently exploring with its partners how to improve the predictability and visibility of COVAX donations and extend the period during which these vaccines can be used.
We also share the desire to speed up the process of accrediting vaccines.
Many challenges thus remain. But science will help us.
This is demonstrated by the record speed with which the COVID-19 vaccine was developed and, most recently, the development of the malaria vaccine. Too many African families are still suffering from this disease. The vaccine was developed in Belgium and recently received a positive opinion from the WHO.
This is a positive note to end on, because yes, there are still challenges ahead, but we can overcome them. Together.