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Borrell: “The EU has failed to strengthen democracy in the Sahel”

Borrell: “The EU has failed to strengthen democracy in the Sahel”
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell speaks at the Ambrosetti   -  
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Claudio Furlan/LaPresse


The head of EU diplomacy Josep Borrell admitted on Tuesday that despite millions of euros spent in the Sahel, Europeans had failed to strengthen democracy in this region, the victim of a series of military coups. , the last of which is in Niger.

Over the past ten years, the European Union has spent 600 million euros on civilian and military missions in the Sahel, trained some 30,000 members of the security forces in Mali and Niger, and 18,000 military personnel, said Mr. Borrell during a debate at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“This did not serve to consolidate armed forces which support the democratic government”, but rather armed forces “which overthrow them”, he nevertheless admitted. In this context, the military mission in Niger does not have "a great future", he admitted.

Mr. Borrell nevertheless endeavored to defend the action of Europeans in the Sahel ( Mauritania, Chad, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali, and Senegal ), denouncing in passing Russian disinformation in this part of Africa.

“Let's not self-flagellate and above all let's not start blaming one of the EU countries, which is on everyone's mind,” declared Mr. Borrell, in an explicit reference to France. The Sahel remains a “strategic” region for the security of Europe and the control of migration, he insisted.

In Niger, migratory flows have been reduced by 75% since 2016, he argued, warning that we should hardly count on the new military regime to be “concerned” about these problems.

Asked what Europeans could do, Mr. Borrell insisted on the need to "not abandon" the Sahel and to support the efforts of the Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in particular in Niger.

Concerning this country where the army took power on July 26, he recommended "personal sanctions" against those responsible for the coup d'état. The EU will only be able to work properly once security is restored in this region of the world, he also explained.

"If 80% of the territory is controlled by terrorists in Burkina Faso, if hundreds of thousands of children do not go to school because the terrorists closed them or killed the teachers, it is difficult to say Europe, what are you doing?" , he asked himself.

Since 2020, Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Niger have suffered military coups.

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