Belgium in new Africa peace bid
5 July 2004, BRUSSELS – Belgium will next week host a conference designed to strengthen economic ties between the countries of Africa's conflict-riven Great Lakes region, it was announced on Monday.
5 July 2004
BRUSSELS – Belgium will next week host a conference designed to strengthen economic ties between the countries of Africa's conflict-riven Great Lakes region, it was announced on Monday.
On 11 July Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel will chair a major conference in Brussels that will bring together his counterparts from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi and Rwanda.
The aim of the talks is to breathe new life into an initiative called the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL).
The CEPGL was actually set up in 1976 but according to the Belgian Foreign Ministry a decade of wars in the region have "practically killed" the initiative.
The Belgians hope next week's talks will go some way to replacing the current bellicose relations between states in the Great Lakes region with more peaceful exchanges based on mutual trade.
"We will not stop war for good unless we stop poverty and exclusion, if we do not build confidence and we do not build bridges," Michel said.
In recent months Rwanda and the DRC have accused each other of meddling in their respective internal affairs.
The DRC itself is only just emerging from nearly a decade of civil unrest and the political situation in the country is still very fragile.
A decade ago Rwanda was the scene of one a horrific inter-ethnic genocide that led nearly a million people dead.
Burundi meanwhile, is trying to foster a peace process that the international community hopes will put an end to a festering civil war that broke out there in 1993.
The DRC, Rwanda and Burundi are all former Belgian colonies.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news