Five years ago, Islamist militias brought brutal violence and destruction to Mali. The extremists’ advance on the capital, Bamako, was stopped only through resolute action by France. The Malian Government had requested such support. Terrorism and the smouldering conflict between various ethnic groups had long robbed the state of control of large swathes of the country.
Helping people help themselves
Since then, the help given by the international community has brought many improvements: the Government and separatist rebel groups signed a peace agreement in June 2015. The gradual improvement in the security and humanitarian situation is due in part to the EU Mission in which Germany is participating: EUTM Mali is intended to enable the Malian armed forces to ensure their country’s security again themselves in future. A total of 140 Bundeswehr soldiers are currently working in Mali. “Our engagement in Mali shows that, wherever Europe is willing to enter into a shared commitment, we achieve something worthwhile,” Foreign Minister Gabriel said in the Bundestag, where the motion to extend the mandate for Bundeswehr participation today had its first reading. The application was passed to the lead Committee on Foreign Affairs for consultation.
Human rights on the curriculum
Since 2013, EUTM Mali has trained more than 9000 Malian soldiers. The curriculum includes not only classical military training, but also international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) and human rights. So that the training has a long‑term impact, the Mission is increasingly concentrating on “training the trainers.”
Stabilisation and prevention: major interests in the Sahel region
“Mali’s stabilisation is crucial for security and development in the entire region,” Gabriel said. Stability in Mali and the Sahel region is a major interest for Germany and Europe. Mali is a transit country for many refugees. Terrorism and violent conflicts are destroying people’s prospects and leading to economic misery, so that, for many, migration to Europe seems to be the only way out. Development, stability and security, by contrast, give the population a brighter outlook if they stay.
That is why Germany, as well as supporting EUTM Mali and the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), is also engaged at various levels to ensure stability and prevent the outbreak of new crises in the country. In this context, the Federal Foreign Office consults with and assists the Malian Ministry of Reconciliation, among others, and supports projects which improve the population’s living conditions.
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Speech by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel on the Federal Government’s motion to “continue the participation of armed members of the German Armed Forces in the EU military mission as a contribution to the training of the Malian Armed Forces (EUTM Mali).”