European union-African Union summit 7

Not long ago, the leaders of the European Union(EU) and the African Union (AU) met in Lisbon to discuss issues of common interest.I suppose that this summit achieved its most important objectve, which is a photo opportunity to transmit to the whole world, and of course to show that Africa is an equal partner ;).

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The relationship between Europe and Africa has always been a complicated one. It sounds like one between ex-couples.The reasons are not hard to find. Years of slavery, colonization, cold war, and winds of changes mean that there are many grudges to settle. Africans are still trying to co-exist within the artificial borders created by the Europeans. The mixture of people of no common ethnic, historical or language background continue to cause conflict in the continent. The African continent seems to have overcome the sponsored ideological wars caused by the East-West divide during the cold war days. Democratically elected governments are gradually replacing lifetime military puppets that had to deliver the wishes of their masters. Globalization has also meant that the world can no longer remain indifferent to what is happening in Africa, as everone becomes affected in the long run.

On the other hand, Europe needs all those natural resources coming Africa-oil, gold, diamonds, as well as the agricultural products-tea, coffee, fruit, cocoa, cotton and the rest.However, Europe is not happy that many Africans are finding all the possible means to move to Europe, and thinks that should be stopped by all means. Europe also wants to associate all its interaction with Africa with human rights and democracy. Many European leaders were very uncomfortable with the presence of Robert Mugabe at the summit and had it not been for the insistence of AU leaders that they would boycott the summit without Mugabe, he would have been dropped from the list. The Europeans do not want to discuss fair trade and subsidies.

There is a third factor-China. The entrance of the Chinese in Africa without pegging its relationship to human rights, religion, democracy, transparency and the rest sounds more like equal partners than the previous. This also means that Europe has a big competitor to face. China's investment in Africa is huge. There are no grudges to settle.

This is not to say that the above mentioned problems-corruption, human rightsand the rest, are not serious problems for Africa. They are ,indeed. They are worth attention. However, there are a lot of other important issues on the table. You need equal partners to get things done. The Eastern European countries e.g. Latvia can play a very important role here. There are no colonial an other grudges to deal with. However, a lot of learning will have to be done in order to understand Africa. Talking about Africa only in terms of Aids, aids, poverty, conflicts is just unfair. Africa has a lot to learn from Eastern European countries in terms of development and democratisation.

As already mentioned, trust and understanding will have to be built. The Afro-Latvian Association (Afrolat) can play a very important role in bridging the gap between the two continents, and is already doing a lot in terms of informing people through stories that encourage mutual understanding.

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user 29.07.2008 16:37
I guess, my coment is not about topic.
But I have question: Is not African Union, Europian Union, South American Union and North American Union tended to be just the parts of something larger?

I guess it's New World Order. It's ideal structure for worldwide companies with unlimited resources and power to take advantages over member states. Theese companies through all theese Unions implement their ambitions to govern the nations together with member state government.

If we try to observe how the they strive to build North American Union, then it is clearly visible that there are no public debates about it. Almost everything happens behind the scenes.

There is no democracy in theese structures.

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Christopher 27.12.2007 22:15
Robert Mugabe is a very insignificant person being given undue coverage by the western media. He is not admired at home , and his anti-colonial sentiments are unpopular. However, the fact that the west has decided to pick on him leaves rooms for speculation that he is just being punished for failing to comply.

The need to apologise was not discussed in the article, and I actually do not think there is any need for it at this point. Building trust is the issue. This is the most important factor that can help diminish the problems that exist and open the way to fair trade, development, education and so on.

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Aleksis 27.12.2007 18:15
So called "colonial grudges" typically cause just moralizing and hollow apologies - see http://www.theamericanscholar.org/au07/apologies-beauchamp.h... . If somebody plays those games, it is very difficult to do anything else with him or her. Incidentally, the most visible guy in Africa who still actively exploits his anti-colonial credentials and anti-British sentiments is named Robert Mugabe...

>> Years of slavery, colonization, cold war, and winds of changes mean that there are many grudges to settle.

I would rather omit slavery-related or colonial grudges from international relationships. It does not matter, if the negotiating partner is the former colonial power, China, Latvia or anyone else. And, definitely, we should stop the European apologies for the policies of the previous generations. That would clean the air for genuine respect and cooperation between nations and also open honest discussions of our common history.

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Jandžs 27.12.2007 15:17
As one who has always believed that it would be nice to own a patch of land in Africa as a retreat from the winters of northern Europe, I welcome Ejugbo's comments regarding the building of mutual trust and understanding. But then again these are no longer overt colonial times--even if the effects of colonial times are still felt. Both Africa and Eastern Europe continue to suffer from expoitation as one form of exploitation appears to simply morph into another. We both are in dire need of bringing our houses in order. Ideally, we would heal by made at home medication. Unfortunately, as many governments in Africa and Eastern Europe are prooving, as long as there is aid from former colonial powers, so long there is not likely to be a full recovery by way of rediscovering our own self.

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