An informal Ministerial meeting was held between Mrs Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP), together with Mr Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and Foreign Ministers of the member countries of Inter-governmental Authority for Development (IGAD) in Brussels on 29 September 2017. The meeting was also attended by Mr Mahboub Maalim, Executive Secretary of IGAD. This was a second informal meeting between the HR/VP and the Foreign Ministers from Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda who also met in March 2017 in the margins of the African Union Summit in Addis Ababa.
The meeting focused on the multiple challenges affecting the security, stability and prosperity of the Horn of Africa ranging from protracted conflicts and transnational crime to irregular migration and poor economic development. The High Representative/ Vice-President reiterated the EU’s continued engagement and support to the security and stability of the Horn, through close political ties and the EU’s substantial cooperation and security commitments, including through its EUCAP Somalia and ATALANTA missions. Both sides agreed to reinforce collaboration on transnational crime, maritime security and border management, in full respect of the rule of law and the protection of human rights. They also exchanged views on concrete avenues for cooperation on cross border trade and investment through EU instruments and programmes, notably the new EU External Investment Plan, launched yesterday.
The EU commended IGAD’s important initiatives to manage the reconciliation processes in Somalia and South Sudan and welcomed IGAD’s June Summit decision to revitalise the peace process in South Sudan. At the same time, the High Representative/Vice-President emphasised the need for closer regional cooperation to face common transboundary challenges.
All sides concurred on the crucial importance of Somalia’s security and state building progress for the stability of the region. The EU reiterated its support of the AMISOM mission while highlighting the need for a fairer burden sharing of the International Community and a gradual ownership by the region. In dedicated discussions on the humanitarian situation in the Horn, Commissioner Stylianides welcomed the solidarity shown by several countries in the Horn hosting millions of refugees. Both sides agreed on the importance of providing unhindered humanitarian access to people in need and for Governments to recognise any occurring crisis without delay, to ensure an effective and timely assistance that avoids further sufferings.
The High Representative/Vice-President commended IGAD for the Special Summit on finding Durable Solutions for Somali Refugees, held in March 2017 and for IGAD member states’ commitment to collaborate across the region on the refugee’s plight. In a dedicated session on the Nairobi Plan of Action, all sides agreed to accelerate support to Somalia to create an environment conducive for returns and to refugees who cannot yet go back to integrate into the economic life of their host communities.
Finally, both sides reaffirmed their willingness to ensure a substantial outcome of the upcoming AU-EU summit to be held in Ivory Coast on 29-30 November 2017.
All participants commended the fruitful discussions, agreed to engage annually in this format and to set-up an appropriate Steering Group at senior official level. The Steering Group will develop a political framework for joint action and report back at the next Ministerial.