The three-day trip to Africa, on which Foreign Minister Heiko Maas departed on Wednesday (2 May), was his first official visit to the southern hemisphere. Political and social developments in Africa are matters to which Germany attaches great importance. Both the countries that Heiko Maas visited, Ethiopia and Tanzania, play a stabilising role in troubled regions. As well as talking to members of the two countries’ governments, Maas also met with civil society and opposition representatives.
A source of stability in Africa
A visit to the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa on Thursday (3 May) was one of the main purposes of the trip. Germany considers the AU and its regional organisations to be key actors in managing African crises. The AU is also becoming an ever more important partner for the European Union as well, in view of the challenges we share in Africa in the fields of peace and security, sustainable development and trade, as well as population growth and migration. Political and economic integration in Africa thus remains a key focus of Germany’s African policy.
Social cohesion in the spotlight
The trip also focussed on fostering social cohesion in the regions concerned. Education is a key instrument in building a stakeholder society. With this in mind, Foreign Minister Maas on Friday visited a Tanzanian school which is participating in Germany’s Schools: Partners for the Future programme.
If progress is to be made on social cohesion and conflict settlement, it is vital to invest in the local populace and to fully protect people’s rights and the rule of law. The Foreign Minister’s meetings with MICT representatives in Arusha and with the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights were a clear signal that the protection of human rights and the prosecution of human rights violators is the basis for peace among nations, in Africa, as elsewhere.
In the light of its history – including its actions on the African continent – Germany continues to champion those institutions which help safeguard the rule of law. Confidence that legal rights will be protected, be it at national or international level, makes it easier to live with others in peace. It is an unalterable fact that without peace and security, living conditions will not improve. If Germany is successfully elected to a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council for 2019-2020, it will endeavour to make the international community focus more strongly on Africa.