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General News
Workshop on Foreign Affairs opens 3/26/2007
Ho, March 25, GNA - Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and New Partnership for Africa''s Development (NEPAD), last Saturday said Ghana''s election to the Chairmanship of the Africa Union (AU) reflected the continent''s gratitude to her.

He said Ghana had been the continental trail-blazer with the ability to steer through the current stormy sea of conflicts and challenges of integration and development.

"That confidence placed huge responsibilities on all governance institutions in the country including the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs to collaborate to meet the challenges involved, " he added.

Nana Akuffo-Addo, made the observation when addressing the opening session of a two-day workshop for members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs at Ho.

The workshop was under the theme "The African Union and the ECOWAS: Meeting the challenges of Integration".

It was jointly organized by the Committee, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA) and sponsored by Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Nana Akuffo-Addo said the necessary internal structures and areas for continental collaboration were being established to put President John Agyekum Kufuor on top of events on the continent especially in seemingly intractable troubled areas.

These are Somalia, Sudan''s Darfur region, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), La Cote D''Ivoire and Guinea.

He said solutions to these conflicts would not be easy but what was reassuring was that "President Kufuor has proved his capacity to be an "honest peace broker, an honest interlocutor," with his role in bringing peace to Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Nana Akuffo-Addo said already some signs of positive developments had began to emerge, such as the recent Franco-African Summit in France and the involvement of Burkina Faso''s President Blaise Compaore in resolving the Cote D''Ivoire problem.

"I am very happy that President Compaore is involved and President Kufuor intends to work closely with him," he added. Nana Akuffo-Addo noted that the situation in Cote D''Ivoire was not just one of those conflicts because it impinged directly on the security of Ghana.

He said there was the need to impress on the political actors in Cote D''Ivoire that failure to implement several agreements was frustrating the international community.

"We have to ensure that the process started in Ouagadougou leads to elections, giving the people the right to decide in free and fair elections the future of that country," he said.

The Foreign Affairs Minister said President Kufuor would also explore his personal and working relationship with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muammar Al Gaddafi of Libya to exert their influences in resolving the Darfur problem.

He said dialogue was necessary "to enable us handle the Sudanese issue".

On Somalia, Nana Akuffo-Addo said, there was the need to persuade the political actors to agree to dialogue promptly for a major result. He said ECOWAS was fully engaged in Guinea through Former Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida and was optimistic the outcome would give the Guinean Premier a breathing space to work out something positive. "If we find a democratic way we would solve the problems," the Foreign Minister added.

Ms Kathrin Meissner, Resident Director of Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) said through the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the AU, and regional organizations like ECOWAS, Africa continued to demonstrate her willingness and readiness to find solutions to her problems. She said new responsibilities however required new strategies and that progress towards greater integration called for the definition of objectives and a common vision.

"Relationship between the regional organizations and AU should be worked out and co-ordination mechanisms established," she added. More

Ms Meissner explained that it was for such co-ordination that the workshop was organized to brainstorm on the way forward for Africa. She said some of the questions to be examined were "Where should the AU be heading?", "Is the United States of Africa a realistic, desirable and achievable vision for the continent?" "How can Africa best deal with the many security challenges lying ahead?"

Others were "Where does the AU come in, where ECOWAS and the other regional organizations come in, how should the relationship between ECOWAS and the AU best be organized? And what is Ghana''s role in all these?".

Mr K. Adusa Okerchiri, Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Foreign Affairs and Mr Yao Gebe, of LECIA, in their contribution commended the management of FES for its continued interest in providing the resources and forums for sharpening the perspectives of members of the Committee.

They contended that perspectives of the members on global and especially African events were crucial to its role as an important player in giving impetus to the direction of Ghana''s foreign policy and its implementation. 25 March 07


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