Visit of AU High-Level Delegation to the Nordic Countries
An AU High Level delegation visited the Nordic Countries of Sweden, Finland and Denmark from 23-29 April 2016. The delegation was composed of the Commissioner for Peace and Security, Ambassador Smail Chergui, and the AU High Representative for Mali and the Sahel and Head of the AU Mission for Mali and the Sahel (MISAHEL), former President of Burundi, H.E Pierre Buyoya.
In Sweden, the delegation held consultations with the State Secretary to the Minister of Defense, Mr. Jan Salestrand; Swedish Supreme Commander , General Micael Byden; Ms. Ulrika Modeer, State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation and the Director General of the Folke Bernadotte Academy, Mr. Sven-Eric Soder. The consultations between the two delegations were hailed as timely as the Swedish Government is in the process of developing a five year strategic plan for sub-sahara Africa that could take into account joint priorities of the AUC and the Swedish government.
In Finland, the delegation met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Timo Soini, and his Special Representative on Mediation, Mr. Pekka Haaviso and held discussions with Finland's Former President Martti Ahtisaari who is currently the Chairman of the Crisis Management Initiative (CMI). In Denmark, the delegation met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Kristian Jensen and interacted with members of the Danish Parliament and other senior officials from the Ministries of Defense, Foreign Affairs and the Danish international development cooperation (DANIDA). The delegation also had an opportunity to interact with students of the National Defense University of Finland and the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen.
In all three countries, the discussions focused primarily on enhancing the partnership between the AU Commission and the Nordic countries in the areas of conflict prevention. They also exchanged views on the the latest developments in Mali, Libya, the Sahel, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lake Chad Basin, South Sudan, Somalia and AMISOM. The delegation also discussed the AU's efforts to address violent extremism and radicalization in the framework of the Nouakchott and Djibouti processes meant to enhance regional security cooperation in the Sahel and East Africa.
The AU Commissioner for Peace and Security also briefed on the AU efforts to ensure sustainable and predictable funding for AU-led peace operations; noting that the urgency was to bridge the gap for AMISOM stipends following the EU's decision to reduce support by 20 percent. The Commissioner highlighted that as part of its long-term strategy, the AU has appointed the High Representative for the Peace Fund, Dr Donald Kaberuka and that he is working around the clock to find sustainable solutions.
All three countries expressed interest in the work undertaken by the Commission on women, gender peace and security and the AU zero tolerance stance on sexual exploitation and abuse in peace operations and the upcoming AU Summit on Maritime Security, Safety and Development to be held in Lomé, Togo in October 2016.