By Isaac Aregbesola
The European Union (EU) and ECOWAS rose from the 22nd ECOWAS-EU political meeting on Friday, commending Nigeria for the progress made in the fight against Boko Haram.
The two organisations made the commendation in a communique released at the end of the meeting on in Abuja.
The meeting which was at the ministerial level of EU-ECOWAS was co-chaired by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Mustapha Suleiman, and Secretary of State of Finance Republic of Austria, Hebert Fuchs as Chair of Council of EU.
Sulaiman represented the Chair of ECOWAS Council of Minister while Fuchs spoke on behalf of High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.
“The participants exchanged views on the security and humanitarian situation in the North East, Nigeria.
“Both sides commended the progress made in the fight against Boko Haram but noted with concern the recent increase in attacks by terrorist groups.
“Referring to its support provided to the Multinational Joint Task Force, the EU expressed its commitment to support the countries of the Lake Chad Basin in addressing the multiple remaining challenges in this region through a comprehensive approach,” it stated.
The participants according to the communique, noted the challenging general security environment ahead of the Feb.16, 2019 election in Nigeria.
The challenge, it noted was occasioned by mainly Boko Haram activities in the Northeast, the Farmers-Herders conflict in the middle Belt regions, among other threats.
“They highlighted the importance of addressing among others, the root causes of conflicts and basic needs of the population related to the strengthening of resilient humanitarian access to the affected areas.
“The participants applauded the growing cooperation and collaboration that characterised the relations between the EU and ECOWAS.
“They underscored their shared values and increasing convergence of views in the areas of peace and security, governance, migration, trade and other development-related issues.
“They reaffirmed the importance of advancing peace and security in the ECOWAS region and their willingness to deepen their cooperation in these areas in line with ECOWAS Protocol and regional mechanism,” it stated.
It stated that the EU particularly expressed its appreciation of the measure being taken by ECOWAS in strengthening peace and security as well as consolidation of the gains of democratisation process in West Africa.
The communique added that ECOWAS and the EU took note of the commencement of negotiation on future ACP-EU relations after 2020.
“They welcome the willingness expressed by the negotiating parties to readjust these future relations in the light of the current and emerging global challenges.
“Also to strengthen their partnership towards the implementation of the development agenda and realisation of multilateral commitment.
“Partcipants reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen the strategic relations between ECOWAS and the EU after 2020,” it stated.
It stated that they agreed to continue the dialogue on developmental cooperation and multiannual financial framework, at a special session of the Strategic Orientation Committee.(NAN)