Piracy a keynote of Westerwelle’s African tour


German Vice Chancellor and Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle made his country’s concern with piracy of the Horn of Africa a keynote of his African trip that ended on Sunday. He raised the issue in Tanzania on Thursday, South Africa on Friday and Djibouti at the weekend.

Westerwelle Sunday told Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh and Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf the threat of piracy needed to be ended. The German news agency dpa added Westerwelle said the issue highlighted the fact that the world must unite to help rebuild Somalia. Berlin has recently announced plans to open an embassy in Djibouti, reflecting the small country’s growing regional clout, the dpa said.

In SA the minister co-chaired a session of the South Africa-Germany Bi-national Commission with South African Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe. Against expectations, an agreement outlining cooperation in the fields of environment, research, defence and economic affairs, was not signed during the visit, the dpa said. German sources said the South African side had requested further clarification on aspects of the memorandum.

The day before, in Tanzania, the two countries agreed to work closely together in countering piracy in the Indian Ocean. “Fighting piracy in this part of the world is in the interest of our two countries,” he said after holding discussion about the issue with his Tanzanian counterpart, Bernard Membe.

Underlining their discussion about piracy, Membe said on the part of Africa it had become a continental crisis, and urged all all nations to come together to address the problem. According to Membe, Germany has accepted Tanzania’s request for assistance in training the Somali police force.
“In our analysis, the piracy question is born out of the long-running crisis in Somalia. Somalia is a failed state. The people have no economic undertakings and as a result of isolation from the international community, the situation has generated piracy,” said Membe.

The Pan African News Agency reports he added that a solution to the Somali crisis could be found if African countries that pledged to provide peacekeepers were given international support to mobilise their troops into Somalia. “The deeper roots of the Somali crisis are in insecurity. The population needs a security guarantee so that they can rebuild their society,” he added.