Summary: 1 April 2014, Brussels - Remarks by President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy following his meeting with U Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
It is a great pleasure to welcome the UN Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-moon to Brussels. He will be our guest of honour at the 4th EU-Africa Summit on 2 and 3 April.
The United Nations and the European Union are close partners in all areas crucial for Africa's future - peace and security, development and human rights. The European Union, Mr. Secretary-General, is your best friend and ally in promoting all of these issues.
I hope that tomorrow's Summit will mark a new stage in our relations with Africa. The focus of EU-Africa relations is shifting from development cooperation to a partnership of equals, in which trade and investment play an increasingly important role.
The European Union has a major stake in ensuring a peaceful and prosperous Africa, where the rights of all people are respected. Developments in Africa also affect Europe's security and well-being.
Over the past ten years, the EU has become a major actor in supporting peace and security in the African continent. We are currently running eight, civilian and military, crisis management operations at the request of concerned countries and in close cooperation with the United Nations, the African Union and other regional organisations.
We are working hand-in-hand with the United Nations in Mali and in Somalia and we are doing our utmost to deploy the newest EU operation in the Central African Republic in the upcoming weeks.
We strongly support the efforts of our African partners to strengthen African ownership in the area of peace and security. Today, we discussed with the Secretary-General further possibilities for cooperation to enhance African capacities for crisis prevention, management and resolution.
The Secretary-General and I also discussed the latest developments regarding Ukraine. The European Union supports the recent UN General Assembly Resolution, which reconfirms the international community's commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Most importantly, this resolution reconfirms the importance of the fundamental principles on which the United Nations is based: the obligation of all states to refrain from the use of force and to settle differences by peaceful means in full respect of international law.
The European Union continues to urge Russia to take steps to de-escalate the crisis, immediately withdraw its forces and engage in a dialogue to find a peaceful and negotiated solution respecting international law, including through the establishment of a multilateral mechanism. In this respect, we welcome the ongoing efforts between the US and Russia.
The EU also welcomes the deployment of an OSCE Monitoring Mission and of a UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. We commend the recent visit of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to Moscow and Kiev and support the UN's role in addressing the crisis.
Let me also reiterate the EU's support for the United Nations' tireless efforts to end the horrible conflict in Syria, to alleviate the humanitarian plight of the Syrian people and to destroy Syria's chemical weapons.
Equally, we appreciate the United Nations' role in facilitating negotiations to achieve a comprehensive solution to the Cyprus issue. All these cases demonstrate the indispensable role of the United Nations in furthering peace and security.
Finally, I would like to welcome the Secretary-General's initiative to invite world leaders to a Climate Summit in New York in September. I hope this initiative will boost our joint efforts to achieve a binding international climate agreement by 2015.