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On the way to a real partnership - Speech by Federal President Horst Köhler at a luncheon with African counterparts

Federal President Horst Köhler with his african counterparts Berlin, 27 April 2009 Photo: Federal Press Office © Photo: Federal Press Office

"May I first bid you all a very warm welcome to Schloss Bellevue. I'm delighted you are here today.

Among you I can see people who represent very different aspects of Africa, a continent whose variety and cultural wealth is still much too little known here in Germany. First and foremost, however, I see people who represent the new Africa, leaders who accept that in a democracy power is bestowed for a limited period only. You stand for an Africa which, with the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), has embarked on a course of political, economic and social reform. An Africa which faces up to its responsibility when conflicts break out and which seeks peaceful ways of settling them. An Africa which wants to solve its own problems, which speaks out with self-assurance, and which asserts its right to participate in globalization.

We have long been aware that we need each other in order to tackle the challenges of our times and build a good future for all of us. Africa needs Europe, but Europe also needs Africa. Africa's participation is needed if globalization is to be a success, particularly if we want to overcome the financial and economic crisis. A new dimension of international cooperation is needed. Africa's involvement in the recent G20 negotiations on restructuring the international financial markets is an important step here.

We have already made good progress towards creating a new partnership. The joint strategy adopted by the European Union and the African Union for the first time defined common interests. Our task now is to make sure that political reality lives up to the ambitious goals, because real partnership means being honest with each other and facing up to your responsibilities. With NEPAD Africa has shown that it truly wants change. But we here in the North must also ask ourselves what we need to change so as to create a fairer, and therefore more peaceful and stable world. The industrialized countries must acknowledge that they bear the prime responsibility for global warming and recognize the repercussions it has for poorer nations. We need a pro-development multilateral trade system. We must together fight corruption and the illegal trade in raw materials.

However, a real partnership also means approaching each other openly and with respect, and listening to what the other has to say. We have to realize that we can still learn a lot more from each other. We must identify the barriers which divide us so that we can overcome them. We cannot simply talk away imbalances in our relationship, but we can speak about them frankly and discuss how to deal with them. That was one of the major messages of the four Africa Forums held in Germany and various African countries as part of my Partnership with Africa initiative.

Africa is facing major challenges. The objective will be to preserve what has been achieved over the past few years, to prevent millions of Africans from falling back into poverty. But we must also jointly blaze new trails to ensure that this crisis leads to new opportunities, for example in climate protection and environmental technology. Fortunately, when I look at the wealth of experience gathered in this room today, I'm convinced that we will succeed. If we learn from the past, we can look to the future with confidence.

It's therefore good to have an institution like the African Presidential Archives and Research Center which helps us make better use of that wealth of experience, and I'd like to thank the organizers of the Presidential Roundtable for their commitment. Expectations of the new US Administration under President Obama are high, especially in Africa. We Europeans and Americans should together do all we can to make the emerging partnership with Africa a success. I'm therefore very pleased that this year's Presidential Roundtable is being held in Berlin, and I wish you a successful conference. I'm looking forward to having a fruitful discussion with you all!"