Africa, Europe are not threats to each other – Kagame
African and European countries should work together to foster domestic and global development instead of looking at each other as threats, President Paul Kagame has said.
The Head of State was speaking on Wednesday in Brussels, Belgium, during the opening ceremony of the European Development Days (EDD) summit.
Organised by the European Commission, EDD brings together the global development community to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges.
Kagame called for more cooperation and mutual respect between Europe and Africa, urging leaders on both sides to work together to address global development challenges.
“Sustainable development rests on a foundation of good politics and respect for rights. While people may draw different lessons from their respective histories about the most suitable form of governance for their situation, there will always be ample room for discussion and exchange of views among friends,” he said.
Kagame called for partnership based on mutual respect in order to solve shared challenges such as migration.
“Our starting point should be that the dignity and safety of migrants, both in their country of origin and destination, is paramount,” Kagame said.
“Yet one can safely say, if very uncomfortably, that the migration crisis is a consequence of policies that have not worked well for a long time, if at all. Compromising stability by seeking to impose one’s values on others will always have adverse outcomes for everyone involved,” he added.
Kagame called for the kind of conversation that highlights the benefits Europe and Africa stand to gain through true partnership.
“If we have an honest and objective discussion, we find that there is actually no basis for Africa and Europe to see in each other any threat, ” Kagame said.
“We can do better. There are responsibilities and opportunities for all of us, working together,” Kagame added.
Thousands of development actors from around the globe gathered in Brussels on Wednesday – and Thursday – have held discussions about how to invest in inclusive development with a focus on strengthening global partnerships to promote private sector development, gender equality, and youth empowerment.
Empowering youth, women
Kagame said the focus of the meeting was relevant to the current world challenges, describing the strengthening of the private sector and empowering youth and women as a key prerequisite for sustainable development.
“At root these goals are tied together by one simple and powerful idea, and that is unleashing all the potential in society in order to build a more equitable and prosperous future for all of us,” he said.
After describing how Rwanda has been investing heavily in empowering members of the private sector as well as women and youth, the President also thanked the European Union for its support to Rwanda’s progress.
“The European Union has been a very good partner in these efforts and the support, I can say, has been put to good use in Rwanda, and is greatly appreciated. We commend Europe’s recognition that economic and social development is a joint enterprise that benefits us all,” Kagame said.
The opening ceremony of the EDD was also marked by the signing of the “New European Consensus on Development,” a blueprint aimed at setting the vision for European development.
The President attended the EDD meeting at the invitation of the President of the European Union Commission, Jean Claude Juncker, and was expected to meet Belgian Premier Charles Michel on the sidelines of the meeting as well as thousands of Rwandans during ‘Rwanda Day,’ scheduled for this weekend in Brussels.