The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, has pledged the European Union’s (EU’s) support to the government’s efforts to develop the country.
He said the EU considered President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo as an important partner and Ghana as a close friend, and that the EU would “support your personal commitment to democratic principles and values, which are extremely important”.
Mr Michel made the pledge when he led a team to hold a bilateral meeting with President Akufo-Addo and some government officials at the Jubilee House in Accra last Monday night.
Mr Michel is in the country to participate in the Accra Initiative being organised by Ghana and hold an international conference on counter-terrorism in the sub-region.
The conference is to be held at three levels: a technical conference involving non-state actors, a ministerial session involving the ministers of Security, Defence and Foreign Affairs, and a summit on Heads of State and Government of member states.
The Accra Initiative currently comprises seven-member states, namely: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mali, Niger and Togo.
Nigeria has been admitted as an observer state and is hoping to be made a full member state.
Mr Michel said the EU would take time to address issues of importance between Ghana and the EU, especially in the area of economic cooperation.
He said other areas to be touched on were energy, the private sector, investment, economic development, infrastructure, fisheries and also how to make progress in those areas.
Regarding security in the Sahel, he said he was ready to listen to President Akufo-Addo and other leaders of the ECOWAS bloc to know the tools and means they required, so that the EU could provide same to support the effort to fight terrorist attacks.
He said the EU decided a few months ago to, for the first time, mobilise the EU Peace Facility to provide lethal military equipment to support the fight against terrorism in Africa, saying that this was an indication of the EU’s determination to support the African solutions.
Mr Michel said the EU would listen carefully to the African assessment, needs and analysis and what should be provided.
President Akufo-Addo noted that the EU was one of Ghana’s most important partners in the areas of trade, investment, security and cooperation, saying these had the potential for further growth, and that Ghana was interested in growing the relationship.
Touching on the issue of insecurity in West Africa, especially terrorist attacks in the Sahel region which was gradually engulfing some countries in the coastal areas, he said that started with the break-up of Libya and the removal of Muamar Qaddafi.
He said the terrorist elements had moved from the Sahel and were now moving towards Benin, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso.
“So far, Ghana has escaped, but for how long? I think we have to have adequate preparations to see to what extent we can forestall it, and ultimately and most importantly find a way of bringing an end to the menace in West Africa,” he added.