EU: « Significant progress needs to be made »

Seven months after the EU suspended the financial direct aid to the Burundian Government, its delegation has carried out a two day-visit in the country to assess the current situation. Conclusion: there is still a long way to go.

Koen Vervaeke (left) “EU is engaged in encouraging dialogue within the framework of its partnership with Burundi to help find solution to the crisis”

Koen Vervaeke (left) “EU is engaged in encouraging dialogue within the framework of its partnership with Burundi to help find solution to the crisis”

“We have looked into different cases such as human rights, fundamental freedoms including media concerns as well as judicial cases which are still pending. We confirm that EU shared its concerns about the situation. However, there is a need to remain within the framework of the Arusha Agreement which allowed Burundi to access sustainable peace and security in the country”, says Koen Vervaeke, Director General for the European External Action Service in Africa.

“Despite the decision taken by EU to suspend financial direct aid to Burundi government under the procedure of the Article 96 of the Cotonou Agreement, EU will continue to support Burundi population directly. For instance, an amount of 55 million euro has been granted to Burundians this year, in health and agriculture domains, which allowed the financing of half of the health expenditure,” explained Carla Montesi, Director General for International Cooperation and Development, West and Central Africa.

As for the renewal of cooperation between EU and Burundi, the delegation indicated that the Burundian government must endeavor to cooperate with the regional mediation at the head of which is Benjamin Mkapa, former Tanzanian president and all the mechanisms put in place by the UN human rights council and AU.

“We expect much from a genuine commitment of Burundi government to improve the political space, fundamental freedoms by engaging in an inclusive and consensual dialogue for the next round of mediation supposed to be held this October”, concludes Koen Vervaeke.

On behalf of Burundi Government, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Alain Aimé Nyamitwe says EU should remove all restrictive measures imposed since 14 March 2016 as significant strides have been made considering EU recommendations.

“Burundi made a great progress in the inter-Burundian dialogue for over six months of consultations; security has improved throughout the country even if acts of terrorism are still observed in Burundi like elsewhere and some media houses reopened even if others are still closed”, he says. Concerning human rights, Alain Aimé Nyamitwe says the UN rushed to publish a report on the Human rights deterioration in Burundi without taking into account Burundi Government’s observations. The Minister indicated that EU should not take into consideration these minor challenges to impose decisions that undermine the country.