The war of aggression by the Russian regime in Ukraine is having the worst possible impact on the lives of the people of Ukraine – and it also has consequences that go well beyond the region, for until now Ukraine fulfilled the role of “breadbasket”, supplying the whole world with grain. Now, farmland is being ruined, fields cannot be cultivated or harvested properly because of the ongoing Russian attacks, storage facilities such as silos are being destroyed and ports from which shipments of grain such as wheat and corn would normally be organised have been besieged and are being specifically targeted. In Germany we are feeling the impact of this in rising food prices, while sunflower oil and flour are absent from a number of supermarket shelves. Yet in many other countries of the world, a lack of food security is now an absolutely existential issue: millions of people are being hit by famine – mainly in countries that are already struggling with political instability, the impact of the climate crisis, terrorism and other challenges. The Sahel region is a tragic example of this.
Within the context of our G7 Presidency we have therefore made the issue of food security one of our top priorities. During my visits to Mali and the Niger, I want to engage in discussions with government representatives and, in particular, with ordinary people outside of the capital cities and seats of government, in order to gain an accurate picture of the situation, and of how we all, working together, can best tackle the numerous challenges that face the people of the Sahel region day in, day out, and massively impact their lives. The regional perspective is particularly important to me because neither the climate crisis nor famines nor terrorist groups stop at border controls. And it is also clear that in both Mali and the Niger, our joint efforts can only be successful if the framework conditions are stable – and for me that means reliability in cooperation as well as determination in the fight against terrorism and violence and compliance with fundamental principles of the rule of law. In this respect, the Government in Bamako has squandered a considerable amount of trust at international level over the past months, not least by dragging its feet with regard to the democratic transition and by intensifying its military cooperation with Moscow. In my view, it would be wrong to say that we should simply carry on with business as usual. Against this backdrop, we need to reconsider our engagement in the Sahel region. In my opinion, that applies particularly to our contribution in the context of the EU Training Mission EUTM, the goals of which the Malian Government is effectively undermining through its conduct.“