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President of the Government takes part in G5 Sahel Summit

Pedro Sánchez reiterates Spain's strong commitment to strategic region of Sahel

Nuakchot (Mauritania), Tuesday 30 June 2020

The Summit - the first international trip made by Pedro Sánchez since the start of the lockdown in Spain - seeks to contribute to peacekeeping, stability and the development of the region. Within the framework of the meeting, the President of the Government held a bilateral meeting with the President of Mauritania, to whom he handed over a shipment of medical material to fight COVID-19.

The Sahel is undergoing one of the worst crises on the planet in terms of security, and economic and humanitarian affairs, with various different types of threat prevalent in the region, such as terrorism, Jihadi racialism, organised crime and inter-ethnical conflicts, in addition to other challenges such as demographics, climate change and institutional fragility.

The President of the Government sought to highlight Spain's role in this neighbouring region, considered a strategic zone. "Our priority in this fight must be to support those who are directly suffering from the barbarities of terrorism at this time - the people and institutions of friendly nations in the Sahel. We can only prevail if we act on a united front", declared Pedro Sánchez in his speech.

Spain's help for the Sahel has four fundamental aims: peace and security, to strengthen institutions, economic growth that creates jobs, and regular and orderly mobility. The health crisis stemming from the pandemic has exacerbated the drama of unlawful migration, as well as the economic crisis, which is ravaging the civilian population and institutions.

"Regrettably, we have observed that the security situation has significantly deteriorated over the last year and this is seriously affecting stability and the development of the region", argued Pedro Sánchez, who declared his concern over the frequent action by terrorist groups in the region. In this regard, the President of the Government stated that it is fundamental to do away with "the nexus between terrorism and organised crime which is sustained through cross-border human trafficking, whereby the police forces must play a key role in its eradication".

Spanish support for Sahel countries

For some time now, Spain has been the leading contributor to the European Union missions in the region, and heads up police training in Mali and performs strategic transportation under the French 'Operation Barkhane'. As the President of the Government recalled in his speech at the Summit, Spanish experts at the Special Guardia Civil Training Centre in Logroño train the police forces of the G5 Sahel countries and Senegal.

Spain supports the Sahel in development cooperation with a financial commitment of more than 100 million euros and is an active member of the Sahel Alliance, having recently taken on the Presidency of its General Assembly. "We propose to use this to boost the coordination of cooperation initiatives in the region to ensure their impact on people is as effective as possible" specified Pedro Sánchez.

The President of the Government underlined the importance of the Summit, saying "What is at stake in the Sahel, which is what we are talking about here today, is the security of all our citizens, whether to the north or to the south of the Mediterranean", The President of the Government, by attending this Summit, supports the efforts of the Coalition for the Sahel, which also includes the participation of other European leaders, such as Angela Merkel, Giuseppe Conte and Charles Michel. "Spain is willing to keep up its commitment to the Sahel, and even step up our efforts in those fields in which we have a presence", insisted the President of the Government.

Pedro Sánchez and Emmanuel Macron are the only European leaders present in the capital of Mauritania, together with the Heads of State of Government of the G5 Sahel countries (Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Chad) and the Chairperson of the African Union, Moussa Faki Mahamat. The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, and the Secretary-General of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Louise Mushikiwabo, also took part by video-conference.

Bilateral meetings with Mauritania

During the Summit, Pedro Sánchez held bilateral meetings with the President of Mauritania and with the country's Prime Minister, Ismail Ould Bedde Ould Cheikh Sidiya. At his meeting with the latter, the close relations between the two countries could be clearly observed. Mauritania is "a friendly country", and an essential partner in tackling the stability and security challenges in the region, to which end Pedro Sánchez stated that "it will always be able to rely on Spain's support".

In this regard, the first of three teams of Spanish doctors travelled together with the President of the Government, who are due to remain in Mauritania to advise health experts in the latter country in its fight against the pandemic. The President of the Government also handed over 10 respirators, a shipment of health material to fight the global pandemic and offered the Government of Mauritania our country's support in supplying additional material. For Pedro Sánchez, "we can only do away with the virus if we work together. Those countries that have suffered from the worst of the pandemic must share the lessons learned with others".

Following the Summit, Pedro Sánchez met with the President of Mauritania, a friendly nation and strategic ally in the region, which is a benchmark in its institutional stability. The two countries maintain a high degree of cooperation "on managing and controlling migratory flows, and we are committed to continue developing spaces for collaboration to tackle any foreseeable peak in migratory pressure stemming from the worsening of the situation in the region", concluded the President of the Government.

Non official translation