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Speech by Heiko Maas, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, at the UN Security Council briefing on MINUSMA

29.03.2019 - Speech

(check against delivery)


Mr. President, dear Jean-Yves (Le Drian),

Excellencies,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to participate in this important Council debate under your chairmanship, Jean-Yves. Sitting next to you here in the Security Council underlines how closely France and Germany are working together – as Council members, advancing multilateralism and cooperating on the ground, for example in Mali.

I was reminded of how important this is during my visit to Mali only a few weeks ago.

I vividly remember a discussion that I had with young people in Gao. They told me about how they fought to resist Islamist terrorism in 2013. They also talked about how they have been working to promote peace since then. They did not allow their freedom to be taken away – including the freedom of thought.

How did they find the courage for this? “Because it is our country,” they told me.

To me, this was encouraging. Because it is the women and men of Mali who hold the key to a peaceful future for their country. This is why I am very pleased that Prime Minister Maïga has joined us today for this discussion.

The road to peace and reconciliation is long. Even though Malian leadership plays a critical role, Mali will continue to need international support as it travels down that road. It will need the Security Council right by its side. Our message today is: The Council is ready to support you.

The Council underlined this fact with its trip to Mali and Burkina Faso last week, which was organised by Germany, France and Côte d’Ivoire. The European Union, too, is ready to continue training and supporting the security forces of Mali.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our support to Mali is provided thanks to the civilian staff, police officers and soldiers of MINUSMA, who often serve at great risk to their lives. I heard first hand how dangerous this mission is from the women and men in uniform that I met in Gao. They are doing a fantastic job and we are most grateful to all of them.

The work of MINUSMA deserves our full support. MINUSMA needs a strong and comprehensive mandate.

Germany will continue to work towards this end in the Security Council. We are prepared to continue to participate in MINUSMA with our largest blue helmet contingent. Germany stands shoulder to shoulder with Mali and its people.

Despite much progress, the security situation in the country remains critical. Successes have been achieved in the north. These now need to be secured, also with the help of MINUSMA’s military capabilities.

However, the situation in the centre gives cause for great concern.

  • Competition for resources between different ethnic groups is increasing.
  • Terrorist groups are deliberately taking advantage of these tensions.
  • And the conflicts are fuelled by outside factors, such as climate change.

The terrible massacre that took place only last week near Mopti demonstrated how great the threat is. More than 160 people were killed, including many women and children. The perpetrators of this despicable crime must be brought to justice.

It should remind all of us how important it is to do everything possible to improve the security situation.

  • The government must regain full control in central Mali.
  • It must also greatly step up its efforts to mediate in these disputes.
  • MINUSMA should accompany and support these activities.

Regional cooperation in the Sahel region also remains important – because many of the challenges do not stop at national borders. We call upon the G5 to rapidly make fully operational the Joint Force, which is being supported by Germany and the European Union. Also MINUSMA should continue to play an important role in supporting the G5.

Ladies and gentlemen,

No matter how much MINUSMA is helping to provide stability in Mali, a peace mission cannot replace the political process.

It is therefore very important that your Government has set in motion important reforms – as you stated just now, Mr Prime Minister.

The Secretary-General is right to point out in his report that the peace process has recently gained new momentum. The demobilisation, disarmament and reintegration of former fighters is making progress. Decentralisation, too, is moving forward. Work on reforming the constitution has gotten under way.

These reforms must steadily continue. The upcoming parliamentary elections are another important step.

But something else is needed, as well. To truly have lasting peace, it must be ensured that

  • human rights are respected,
  • women play a major role in the peace process,
  • the different social groups and regions in Mali are brought together,
  • state structures are built up everywhere in the country, and
  • economic opportunities are created, especially for young people.

This is a tremendous task. But I am convinced that it can be done. Because Mali has a great advantage: it has a strong and vibrant civil society. It has young people who believe in the future of Mali, who in the face of many difficulties have decided to stay and build futures for themselves – because it is their country.

These people need our support – and, I believe, they deserve it.

Thank you, Mr. President!

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