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Published on June 22, 2015
Joint article by M. Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, and his Dutch counterpart in the daily newspaper Le Monde
Paris, June 20, 2015

The Europeans must commit themselves more in order to strengthen peace in Mali

The peace process in Mali enters a decisive phase this week. With this in mind, we call on all the parties concerned to shoulder their responsibility to implement the peace agreement, and we issue an appeal to our European partners to contribute more to MINUSMA [United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali].

Mali itself holds the key to lasting peace on its territory. Algeria’s mediation and the international community’s support have enabled a balanced peace agreement to be reached. It is now important for all sides in Mali to sign it. The Bamako government and some of the armed groups signed it on 15 May; for its part, the Coordination of Azawad Movements announced that it would do so on 20 June. We strongly encourage it to do so, because it is a text signed by everyone which will form a solid basis for working towards lasting peace, essential to the development of Mali and of the Sahel as a whole.

It will then be necessary to ensure the agreement is implemented in good faith, in such a way that the Malian people can quickly see the peace dividends. This is primarily the responsibility of the Malian players, and the government and armed groups must regain the mutual trust which is the only opportunity to move forward.
The political party leaders also have an important role to play, as does civil society, particularly women and young people. In a word, reconciliation is a matter for all Malians.

The European interest

By shouldering their responsibilities, our Malian partners will also enable the international community, and particularly the United Nations and the European Union, to support them more effectively. At the end of June, the Security Council is due to renew MINUSMA’s mandate and refocus it on support for the implementation of the peace agreement. The European Union will also continue to play an important role thanks to the different instruments it has: political support, development projects and continued training and capacity-building missions. Different European Union member states are also being very active, particularly through development assistance.

At the same time, we encourage all our European partners to contribute more to MINUSMA. France came to Mali’s rescue in January 2013 by deploying Operation Serval, and it is currently present in the region in the framework of Operation Barkhane. In turn, in the spring of 2014 the Netherlands took the initiative with the deployment of 450 soldiers in MINUSMA; Sweden followed it this year. Other member states, including Germany, Spain and Belgium, are making significant contributions to the mission to train the new Malian army, under the EU banner.

Today, it appears that the European participation in MINUSMA must be increased.
Indeed, the Mali crisis affects the interests of all Europe, through the rise in terrorism and the spread of migration, and the UN mission plays an essential role in stabilizing Mali and, indirectly, the region. The European countries have capabilities crucial to the United Nations, which is operating in a difficult environment: Mali is larger than France, the United Kingdom and Germany put together, and security is still degraded.

Common security

The European countries, in support of the UN contingents made up mainly of African and Asian troops, could thus supply well-trained troops and high-quality capabilities, including intelligence units, special forces and combat helicopters. Today, thanks to the intelligence capability provided by the Netherlands and Sweden, MINUSMA can predict scenarios and make more effective use of the resources it has. It is essential for the European countries to shoulder their responsibility to go on strengthening it.

In many conflict situations, United Nations missions are the only means the international community has available. A high-level panel chaired by Mr José Ramos Horta, the Nobel peace laureate, has set out recommendations with a view to reforming these operations. We are convinced that the modernization envisaged will push other European countries to cross the threshold and fall in under the UN banner. Strengthening the UN means stepping up our own security. Getting involved in support of lasting peace in Mali also means stepping up our security./.

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