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Ms President, Honourable Members of the European Parliament,
As many of you have said -and your resolution also points out-, it is important to underline that Chad plays an important role in the fight against terrorism, within the G5 Sahel group [Joint Forces] and we need to preserve the territorial integrity and stability of Chad, in the fragile security context of the region.
The region is the Sahel region. And the Sahel remains very high in the European agenda. It is one of the regions of the world where the [European] Union and its Member States are most committed to peace, stability and development.
Between 2014 and 2020, we have provided €8,5 billion in development and humanitarian aid, security and defence. This is why the European Union decided to adopt a renewed Sahel strategy in mid-April and why I chose that moment to make my first visit to the region on 22-24 [of April].
I took this opportunity to convey a clear message to all the leaders of the region: the European Union is engaged to support them in the essential fight against terrorism that is paramount for all of us, but our collective commitment needs to bear fruits, needs to deliver.
That is why we have engaged with more than 1,000 people in our military and civilian Common Security and Defence Policy missions in Sahel, in Mali [EUCAP Sahel Mali], in Niger [EUCAP Sahel Niger] and also the EU Training Mission in Mali that now is going to expand its activities to other countries in the region. And that is why also some Member States, with others, are participating in this effort, for example, with the anti-terrorism task force in Takuba.
However, and many of you have also said that -even with not the same words-, we will not collectively succeed in the fight if we do not win the peace while we intend to win the war. We will not win the war without winning the peace. This is all the sense of the civilian surge decided at the N’Djamena Summit last February. And I want to stress the importance of this commitment. It is not only a matter of war; it is a matter of a good governance and employing the capacities of the governments over the territory in order to provide with the basic public goods to the population.
As I said, after the approval of our strategy for the region, and when I was about to visit the Sahel, it happened the death of President [Idriss] Déby of Chad, on 20 April. So, being in the region, I decided to visit Chad, not only to attend the funeral, but also -as I said in my speech the day of the funeral-, that we had to take this opportunity to convey a message to the Chadian authorities and to the African leaders who were present on this ceremony.
First, to recognise the contribution of Chad to the fight against terrorism and this contribution is essential; as I said in the beginning, so much it is Chad’s stability.
Indeed President Deby’s dead was quickly followed by a military takeover by the military junta. And the situation remains evolving rapidly and future developments are difficult to predict. Just before I came here, I have had a meeting with the President of Niger [Mohamed Bazoum], in visit here in Brussels, I had the opportunity to exchange with him views about this situation and learn from him which can be the prospects.
For us, Europeans, and for all the countries in the region, this is a major source of concern because of the effective and necessary involvement of Chadian troops in the G5 Joint Forces and the fight against terrorism on the Lake Chad.
But, as I clearly stated during my eulogy – my intervention in the funeral - while stability of Chad remains paramount, we need a genuine inclusive dialogue as a necessary step towards a renewed social contract in Chad too.
I also declared there, and reiterated in my later statement, the importance of a swift return to constitutional order and that the political transition must be civilian-led. And it was good news that the military junta decided some days after to nominate a civilian as Prime Minister [Albert Pahimi Padacke]. But this transition needs to be limited in time and peaceful. And, unhappily, there have been events with regrettable casualties among civilians that do not follow this peaceful requirement. It should respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and lead to credible elections.
The military authorities nominated a government, which includes some opposition’s representatives. They indicated their will to engage in an inclusive dialogue. And as I said, they nominated a civilian Prime Minister [Albert Pahimi Padacke].
Still, demonstrations against the military junta were put down by force and there are reports of civil society organisations and political opponents being harassed by the state security services.
We -the European Union- have strongly condemned this repression of demonstrations in Chad. And we are talking to all stakeholders, including representatives of the opposition and of civil society, to convey our key messages and to listen to their concerns.
Let me finally stress that a close cooperation with the United Nations and the African Union remains important. The latter had a mission in Chad to evaluate the situation. The African Union Peace and Security Council is expected to come with recommendations for the transition.
Certainly, dear Members, this is a difficult moment in Chad’s history, but it is also a potential threat for our strategy to fight terrorism in the region. But it is also an opportunity, an opportunity -as we say here in Europe those days- to build back better, to build a new social contract in Chad that should serve to meet the numerous aspirations of the population and to address the root causes of instability of the country, including certainly lack of democratisation, lack of good governance, and full respect to human rights.
We will be ready to accompany Chad in that direction but we need to see a clear commitment by the authorities to go along that path.
And I want to use this opportunity, here from the tribune of the European Parliament, to reiterate this message.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-205810