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Thank you Mr President,
Over the past months, we have seen a continued and dramatic deterioration of the security situation in Burkina Faso. I would like to start by expressing our solidarity with the people of Burkina. More than 200 people were killed so far in 2019, including 60 victims in the last month.
This insecurity climate puts more pressure on already overstretched social services. The number of internally displaced persons is now reaching 300,000 people, posing a serious challenge to the delivery of food, health or sanitation services, but also in terms of social cohesion.
The jihadist groups are now targeting both security forces and civilians, with a clear strategy to foster local antagonisms and create a circle of vengeance between different communities. They are trying to incite a war of religion, in a country that has a long history of peaceful coexistence between faiths and communities.
The European Union is today closer than ever to the people of Burkina Faso. The country is currently at the heart of our action in the Sahel. In the last seven years we have mobilised more than one billion euros for development programs in Burkina.
High Representative [of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica] Mogherini was in Ouagadougou over the summer, on the occasion of the fifth annual Ministerial meeting between the EU and the G5 Sahel. During the meeting, she announced an extra €138 million in support the Joint military force of the G5 Sahel, which has an important role in fighting terrorism and organised crime across the region.
Our military and civilian missions in the Sahel are also working more and more across the region, alongside with French operation Barkhane.
Coordination between security and development policies is one of the essential challenges, and this was one of the main messages that the High Representative [Federica Mogherini] delivered during her visit.
We are glad that the G5 countries have committed to adopting an Integrated Strategic Framework, precisely to synchronise their efforts on security and on development and to identify priority regions for their action.
The government of Burkina has also extended the emergency plan for the Sahel to its eastern regions, which is a positive development.
During her visit Ms Mogherini called for urgent progress on security sector reform. The fight against terrorism can only bear fruit if security forces respect the rule of law and human rights. This is the only way to build trust between State authorities and all sectors of the population.
The recent national dialogue is an important building block for national cohesion. It is crucial that all ethnic communities in Burkina feel that they are part of a common national family. As the terrorist foster hatred and inter-ethnic tensions, the State should push in the opposite direction and invest in a shared sense of belonging for all its citizens.
Security is vital, but it is not the only answer to the challenges that the country is facing. Linking political, security and development issues will be more and more essential. Let me just mention that, during her trip to Burkina, the High Representative also visited an EU-funded school – because education is the foundation of any country's strength.
International coordination is also crucial, and the EU is willing to engage even more with the whole region. This is the reason why we took the opportunity of the ECOWAS extraordinary summit on terrorism in Ouagadougou last Saturday to discuss with countries of the wider region how they can contribute more to contrast terrorism and how we can coordinate our respective actions.
Since 2015, a peaceful country like Burkina Faso has had to face unprecedented violence. We Europeans have stepped up our support to stop this escalation, to stabilise a crucial region for our own security, and to help the people of the Sahel take their future into their hands. We will continue to be a strong partner for Burkina and for its people.
Link to the opening remarks: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-177428
Mr President, Members of the Parliament,
First, I would like to stress that this discussion was very relevant for our current and future actions. I would like to thank Honourable Members for their interventions.
The EU has built a very high profile in the Sahel where we have really achieve to implement an integrated approach as an illustration of our Global Strategy. Next week, the HRVP will have the opportunity to share these achievements in the margins of the UN General Assembly during a special event on Mali and Sahel.
As coordination remains an important challenge I will take this opportunity to welcome the recent G7 "Partnership on Security and Stability in Sahel" initiative, as a contribution to support an integrated approach based on long-term vision and to avoid overlap.
As a follow up to the recent contacts we have had with our local counterparts and based on today's debate, be reassured that we cannot – and we will not – leave Burkina Faso alone in facing the challenges the country is confronted with.
Link to the closing remarks: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-177430