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General News Sat, 13 Jan 2007

Europe should not close its eyes to injustice in Africa - Kohler

Accra, Jan. 13, GNA - German President Horst Kohler said on Saturday that it was inconsistent for Europe to demand justice for itself while closing eyes to the political and economic injustices in Africa.

He said it was therefore about time the North changed its behaviour to the continent by refusing to accept human rights violations taking place in the region and the removal of its bar on Africa's way to export opportunities.

"The hunger for justice is great everywhere, particularly in young people. If we do not give our young people a future, we have failed in the present. Hopelessness is the prime source of violence."

President Kohler was speaking at the opening of the two-day German-Africa Partnership Forum he is co-Chairing with President John Agyekum Kufuor at the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre in Accra on Saturday.

Four other African Heads of State, including President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, President Festus Mogae of Bostwana, Liberian President Mrs Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and President Thomas Yayi Boni of Benin, together with the Chairman of the African Union Commission, Mr Alpha Oumar Konare and Mr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, President of the ECOWAS Commission, are also attending.

The Forum, a baby of the German President, is being held under the theme: "Two Generations, One Future" and provides the platform for high-ranking African and German personalities in politics, research, business and civil society to dialogue with about 50 young leaders from the continent and Germany.

Among the wide range of issues lined up for discussion were the environment, education and training, conflict, violence and democratic processes.

President Kohler expressed concern about the European Union (EU) fisheries policy, which has built overcapacities and bought fishing rights from African countries as well as its subsidized exports of surplus foodstuff, flooding African markets and preventing the independent development of sustainable food bases on the continent.

The refreshing news however, he noted, was that Germany, which assumes the presidency of both the EU and the Group of Eight industrialized countries (G8) this year, would use the presidency to set a good example. President Kohler said looking at the encouraging examples of countries like Japan, China, India, Vietnam and Thailand, which have modernized successfully, he saw no reason why Africa could not find its way into its own modern age.

President Kufuor on his part, said it was the expectation that the outcomes of the Forum would contribute to the realization of the objectives of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD). He asked that the proceedings should be conducted in a spirit that emphasized their inter-dependence and common humanity within the global society rather than their differences.

"Within this approach, we will find innovative ideas to address the concerns of European and African youth from diverse backgrounds and foster greater understanding among them."

President Kufuor said this way; the Forum would have contributed to bridging the ethnic, religious, cultural, gender and other social divides between the youth in the region and their German counterparts. He observed that both as President of the Federal Republic of Germany and a former Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr Kohler has shown himself as a great friend of Africa, an icon in the field of development and a champion for the building of collaboration for the good of nations.

"I believe that we can count on him to ensure that Africa remains a privileged partner, not only to Germany but also of the EU. We expect that at the end of our deliberations, he would help to drive the move from dialogue to action."

Source: GNA