Tanzania: Germany prods AU, EAC to contain Burundian conflict

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania (PANA) – Germany has urged the African Union and the East African Community (EAC) to expedite resolution of the ongoing conflict in Burundi in order to prevent a spillover effect into neighbouring countries.

German Foreign Affairs Minister, Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, made the remark late Sunday when he made a brief visit to the EAC headquarters in Arusha, northern Tanzania, during which he held bilateral talks with the EAC Secretary General, Dr. Richard Sezibera.

He expressed the hope that the views and concerns of all parties in the Burundian conflict including the Diaspora would be incorporated in the peace talks.

The Federal Republic of Germany has so far given the EAC over 213 million euros in grants for the regional integration initiatives through education, health and infrastructure projects, among other sectors.

Affirming his country’s continued support to the EAC, Dr Steinmeier said that the regional bloc was on the right track in terms of economic and political integration.

"Integration is not a fair weather project. Germany would not be where it is today without economic cooperation with the rest of Europe. I can say that the 60 years of European cooperation have been a success story," he said.

Further, he said it was up to the EAC partner States – Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi - to prioritize the areas of cooperation.

“There is no global blueprint for regional integration,” Dr. Steinmeier said, noting that the European Union was currently grappling with the refugee crisis brought about by the conflict in Syria and the Greek financial crisis.

On economic growth in Africa and the EAC, Dr. Steinmeier said it was disturbing that the perceived benefits from encouraging economic growth figures were not trickling down to the majority of the population, especially those who lived in rural areas, in terms of employment opportunities and poverty reduction.

Dr. Sezibera thanked Germany for its generous assistance which enabled the EAC to record significant successes, including the realization of the Customs Union, Common Market and commitments to support the attainment of the East African Monetary Union.

According to the EAC chief executive, intra-EAC trade had grown from 10 per cent a few years ago to more than 26 per cent at the moment.

Dr. Sezibera said the EAC wanted to benefit from technology transfer from Europe's largest economy and penetrate the German market which he described as large and vibrant.

"Our focus is on vocational training and whether entrants into the job market have the right skills. We are also involving our agro-processing industries on how to expand manufacturing to a level that can create more jobs," he added.
-0- PANA AR/MA 23Nov2015

23 november 2015 09:07:41

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