Speech by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to the German Bundestag in the debate on continuing the participation of German armed forces in the military mission EUTM Mali

19.04.2018 - Speech

– verbatim report of proceedings –

Mr President,

Fellow members of this House,

Today we are debating the EU Training Mission in Mali which aims to build the foundations to help the Malian security forces be less dependent on assistance from outside in the future and to enable MINUSMA to pass its military responsibility gradually to the Malian armed forces.

There are three key features of the EU Training Mission in Mali. Firstly, the mission is making a major contribution to stabilising Europe’s southern neighbourhood. Secondly, it is carefully designed to bolster cohesion and ownership in the Sahel region. And thirdly, our engagement in Mali is a prime example of an integrated and comprehensive approach which combines both civilian elements and military components.

Given its position and its links to neighbouring states, Mali is central to the stability of the entire Sahel region. If undesirable developments take root there, such as the spread of Islamism, organised crime or trafficking in persons, we soon feel the direct impact in Europe. We saw this for ourselves in recent years following the migration flows.

I call to mind that Mali was on the brink of being overrun by radical Islamists in 2012. Only the rapid intervention first of all of France and then the international community at the request of the Malian transitional Government was able to prevent this happening. Some progress has been made on stabilising Mali in the interim.

Nevertheless, our contribution to the stability of Mali and the Sahel region remains necessary, particularly now in the run-up to the elections and given the security situation which remains precarious.

The five Sahel states of Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad have now joined forces in what they have called the G5 Sahel. The establishment of a G5 Sahel Joint Force is a very positive development and one that we and the European Union are supporting. The Joint Force is geared above all to fighting terrorism and organised crime in the Sahel region. Previously it had mainly been the United Nations, the European Union and France which had been active in this field. It is of paramount importance that a structure rooted in the region is going to tackle these challenges in the future.

Since 2016, EUTM Mali has been providing the G5 Joint Force with advisory services. Now it is time to take the next step in the process. EUTM Mali will provide more assistance as the G5 Joint Force builds up capabilities by seconding mission advisers to the headquarters of the Joint Force in Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad.

Ladies and gentlemen,

EUTM Mali is thus complementing what we are doing with partners in MINUSMA. With tailor made stabilisation and development steps, we are also helping strengthen state structures in the centre of the country and thus also public services. We are also investing in reconciliation projects and crisis prevention to work through past conflicts and consolidate the progress made. We are doing everything to ensure the people there can in the near future take control of their own affairs. Progress on setting up a police force with good relations with the citizens of Mali is essential for their security. We are thus also supporting police training in Mali with a European civilian police mission EUCAP Sahel Mali. Here we are pursuing the fundamental belief that organised crime is not something that should and can be combated using military means alone.

From November, Germany will assume the leadership of the EU training mission and thus shoulder additional responsibility. This example shows clearly the level of German support for Mali. We believe Mali has made progress. But Mali needs continued support on its journey to further stabilisation. EUTM Mali is making a central contribution. I thus ask you to approve the continuation of our participation.

Thank you very much.


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