On Friday (22 January) Federal Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier welcomed his Congolese counterpart Raymond Tshibanda to the Federal Foreign Office. The talks focused on the domestic situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the upcoming presidential elections, but also on the situation in neighbouring Burundi.
Upcoming presidential elections
Almost a year ago, Raymond Tshibanda N’Tungamulongo received Foreign Minister Steinmeier in his home country. At the start of their meeting in Berlin, Steinmeier thanked him for the hospitality he received. He said he remembered well the economic potential, but also the challenges in the eastern part of the country. Tshibanda expressed his gratitude for the contribution Germany made to his country's reconstruction after the civil war, especially for the restoration of Goma airport, whose runway Steinmeier inaugurated during his visit in 2015. Tshibanda said he was hoping for increased cooperation with Germany.
An important topic of the talks was the domestic situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the constitution, presidential elections are to be held before November. Commenting on this, Foreign Minister Steinmeier said: “When the agenda for the elections is set and all indicators point towards constitutional and free elections, then Germany and other states of the European Union will stand ready to provide support.”
Concerns about Burundi
The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's neighbouring country Burundi was also on the agenda of the two Foreign Ministers’ meeting. Time and again, serious domestic tensions have claimed lives during the past months. “We both agree that peace and stability in the entire region will be at risk if the situation in Burundi escalates. We must do all we can to prevent this from happening,” Steinmeier said at the start of the meeting. The horrific genocide in Rwanda served as an eternal reminder to the world, he continued. In order to solve the problem, cooperation between the African Union and the United Nations was of great importance. And one thing was clear: “We will not be successful if the Burundian Government does not make a decisive contribution.” Tshibanda pledged to take a determined stance to foster dialogue in Burundi, thereby supporting the efforts of Ugandan President Museveni.