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". Madam President, honourable Members, my reply will be a relatively brief one, although a whole debate would be needed, of course, to deal with the question. While I do, of course, endorse the analyses and judgments that I have heard on the subject of the democratic credentials of certain countries in the Horn of Africa, I am a little bit more cautious about the involvement of the Commission and of the European Union. Today, the Horn of Africa is a region of which it can be said that the Commission is wholly committed to it, and it is without doubt the region to which I myself devote most time. Mrs Kinnock was, of course, talking about Ethiopia, and she was quite right to do so, for there is a problem with it in international law, one that, I might add, I am continually raising with its prime minister when I am in contact with him in the course of my work on bilateral relations, one on which, indeed, I am working on a virtually daily basis. I carry the messages that have to be carried, particularly where political prisoners are concerned. I also know that efforts are being made by people at a very high level to move this issue forward. Turning to Somalia, let me say that I am astonished that it should be said that we were not saying anything to the transitional government, and I would point out that I was literally obliged to make available EUR 15 million to the Ugandan stabilisation force in Somalia, virtually without conditions attached, even though I had been completely opposed to this if the principle of inclusivity were not adhered to from the outset. After we had made our position clear, and I had imposed that condition, President Youssouf promised us that he would organise a national congress of reconciliation. We are still waiting for it. Since, then, a debate such as this one is suited to this purpose, I have to tell you that if, in Somalia, things are not going well, or moving forward at a good pace, it is for two essential reasons. The first is that the conflict in Somalia, and the issue of Somalia, are not being considered in the context of the Horn of Africa as a whole, and that Somalia, in a number of cases, has become a battlefield for conflicts between outsiders, and that is indeed the case; the difference between Ethiopia and Eritrea touches upon the Somalia question. Failure to move forward, failure to find a solution, is also for a second reason, of which Mrs Kinnock has given examples. In the international community, there are two points of view. Try as one might to pretend that there is only one, the fact of the matter is that there are two points of view to be found in the international community, the first of which tends to be held by the European Union, and the second by the United States. Whenever one of the big players in the international community chooses, as a matter of preference, what we shall call a strategy of privileged partnership with another, and when we are invited by our own Member States to match it exactly with the other international partners – as someone has just done – we do find ourselves, in a number of cases, following behind, and so I would say that we are thus not in a position to act in a truly autonomous manner, on the basis of how we ourselves see things and relying on our own judgment. That is the truth of the matter. I no longer want that state of affairs to be tolerated, since it really is too easy to say to someone, ‘you are not doing enough, you have to organise coordination with our partner, that is to say, with the United States.’ I am not criticising the United States – who have the right to their own strategy – but I do think that if the European Union were able, from time to time, to have greater strategic autonomy and more independence in these matters, we would, without a doubt, be much more effective. This is what I wanted to tell you; perhaps I might also tell you that what I have been doing over the past few months, particularly where political dialogue is concerned, has been, in essence, devoted to the Horn of Africa. The reason why I present this strategy – by means of a report that applies it and is excellent by the way – is precisely because I think that the European Union is not entitled to refrain from taking the initiative in this matter and because I tell myself that the situation is so complex and so difficult that we have to start by trying to get all the stakeholders around one negotiating table in order to sort out the problems that they have in common, and to find common solutions, all with the object of putting them in a position where there is a prospect of dialogue – a dialogue that is something different from discussing without calling a halt to the conflicts between them. In other words, let us open up the prospect of something being done about infrastructure, about food safety, about drought, about pastoralism, about water, about all these issues in which they have a common interest, and then, perhaps, there might be a chance of doing something about political matters. This is what I wanted to say; it is true that we have to coordinate our actions with the other major decision-makers. I think that very sincerely, but I also think that we need, from time to time, to take up our own position on such matters as Somalia. I do think that, if we had been able to take our ideas to their logical conclusion and say ‘we will not give a cent for this stabilisation force until such time as the National Reconciliation Congress is up and running’, we would have been in a much stronger position. I will also say – and it is on this point that I will finish – that I have also sent a letter, couched in extremely precise and strong terms, to President Youssouf in order to remind him of his commitment to inclusivity in resolving this conflict."@en1

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