As the last stop on his trip to West Africa, Foreign Minister Maas is visiting Mali – a country that continues to suffer from ongoing terrorist attacks and ethnic tensions. Germany is playing an active role on the ground with its participation in the UN Mission MINUSMA, the EU’s EUCAP Sahel Mali civilian mission and the EU’s training and advisory mission EUTM Mali.
Successful UN mission with the involvement of the Bundeswehr
With up to 1,100 soldiers and up to 20 police officers, MINUSMA is currently the largest deployment of the Bundeswehr abroad within the framework of a UN mission. In order to gain an impression of the Bundeswehr’s deployment, Maas will visit the Castor field camp in the vicinity of the city of Gao in northern Mali. In Bamako, he will also talk to UN Special Representative for Mali and Head of MINUSMA Mahamat Saleh Annadif about the future direction and tasks of the mission.
Within the framework of MINUSMA, the Bundeswehr is making a tangible contribution to the restoration of state order in northern Mali and therefore to peace and stability in the country. This has a direct and positive impact on the stability of the entire Sahel region. The mission is proving to be successful. The ceasefire between the parties to the conflict is being observed for the most part, access to northern Mali has been improved, and national elections were conducted in a largely peaceful manner in 2018.
Creating lasting peace together
For the German Government, it is clear that the successful stabilisation of the country, whose conflicts are at risk of spilling over into the wider region, requires a joint effort by the Malian Government, the neighbouring states and the international community. It is with this in mind that Germany welcomes and supports the establishment of a joint deployment force of the Sahel G5 countries (Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mauritania and the Niger). Talks with Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta and Foreign Minister Kamissa Camara will therefore focus on how the stalled peace process can be sped up.
A networked approach to German support
Germany’s efforts in Mali are geared towards a networked approach that combines military missions, civilian projects, development cooperation and humanitarian assistance. Maas will therefore also meet German police officers and civilian experts during his visit.
Preserving culture during the crisis
An important focus of the trip is Germany’s efforts to preserve cultural objects in conflict regions. Foreign Minister Maas will view the centuries-old Islamic manuscripts of Timbuktu. During the invasion of the ancient city by Islamist terrorist groups in 2012/2013, the manuscripts were saved from destruction as part of a daring rescue operation supported by the German Foreign Office. Since then, the manuscripts have been undergoing restoration work and are being digitised in the capital Bamako.
Trip to West Africa: different phases in the cycle of international crisis management
Foreign Minister Maas is travelling to Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Mali as part of his trip to West Africa. All these countries are in different phases of international crisis management, be it in the area of conflict prevention, exiting crises or sustainable peacekeeping following crises. Conflict prevention, sustainable peacekeeping and strengthening a comprehensive approach to resolving and preventing conflicts are priorities of German foreign policy and Germany’s membership of the UN Security Council.
At the same time, the German Foreign Office has been tasked by the Federal Government with updating the guidelines for Germany’s policy on Africa – a process that is currently nearing completion. With this in mind, it is important to Foreign Minister Maas to be on the ground and to gain an insight into how and within which framework cooperation with African countries can be deepened, improved and modernised. How can Germany help to promote conflict prevention and crisis management in Africa, either bilaterally or in the context of multilateral networks?