Region of the Great Lakes

BERLIN/KINSHASA/KIGALI (Own Report) | | kongo-kinshasa

BERLIN/KINSHASA/KIGALI (Own Report) The Foreign Office (AA) announced the continuation of its political influence in Central Africa ( ,,Region of the Great Lakes") will utilize German humanitarian aid organizations. Secretary of State, Kerstin Müller explains that support, particularly for the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, must not be diminished by the increased demands in Southeast Asia. In the African war zone, where the EU carried out its first military mission, Berlin has already been attempting to function as mediator for some time. According to the Foreign Office, German activities concentrate on the Congo which, ,,after the conclusion of the current national conflict,"could make ,,considerable political and economic gains due to its size, wealth of natural resources and central location."Rwanda, the former imperial colony, is also part of Berlin's area of interest. There Berlin seeks to eliminate the French competition.

Recruitment

According to Secretary of State Müller, the AA has, since the beginning of the year, earmarked and financed aid in the amount of one million EURO for the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These measures have been concluded with the assistance of German non-governmental organizations which will be made accessible for political purposes by Berlin in the ,,Coordination Committee on Humanitarian Aid."Some time in October, Müller asked the organizations, represented in the ,,Coordination Committee,"to work for the German government as informers: ,,Report your findings and inform the foreign office about pending developments so that we can act politically in time." 1)

No Retreat

For some time, the AA has used its purported ability to mediate to actively attempt to influence the parties to the conflict in the eastern Congolese war zone in order to gain long range political influence. As late as four weeks ago, Secretary of State Müller engaged in pertinent discussions with Uganda; and during the past year she and Foreign Minister Fischer met with members of the governments of Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Müller confirms the German tactic of using mediation of conflicts as an entry to promote influence and self interest stating ,,African self-responsibility and a greater role for the AU [African Union] must not mean that we retreat." 2)Especially the Democratic Republic of Congo, which is considered an important state with natural resources, is increasingly becoming the object of competition for the great powers. US President Bush announced last week that Washington intends to develop stronger activities there.

German Opportunities

The former German colony Rwanda also is an object of Berlin's Central African policies. According to a report by the German Embassy in Kigali ,,the change of government in Rwanda ten years ago has 'catapulted it out' of French Frankophonia."The new political elite of the country consists of ,,Tutsi exiles from Rwanda who were trained in Anglophone foreign soil (Uganda)"and this has ,,increased opportunities for the rest of the Europeans, especially the Germans." 3)It is of special interest to Berlin that Kigali is trying to achieve a ,,bridging function"between the DR Congo and the East African community (EAC: Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania) which it intends to join. The EAC hopes for enormous economic growth resulting from a German railroad project which will make the south of Sudan independent of Khartoum and connect it to Nairobi. 4)

Transportation, Water, Energy

According to the AA, in Rwanda a German firm also is involved in the development of the transportation infrastructure with funds for the project provided by the EU. German development aid focuses on Rwanda where, after the change of government in 1994, emergency aid for water supplies had been provided by the Technische Hilfwerk (THW or technical assistance). In October of 2003, the management of the Rwanda water and energy provider ,,Electrogaz"was transferred to the German company ,,Lahmeyer International"which was able to win out over its French and South African competitors. ,,Lahmeyer"is supposed to prepare the state enterprise for privatization which has become a priority in the plans of Kigalis.

Rwanda had been annexed to the German colony ,,German East Africa"during the Berlin Congo-conference (November 15, 1884 to February 26, 1885) and remained part of the German empire until 1916.

1), 2) ,,Nie wieder? 10 Jahre nach Ruanda - Ein Völkermord und seine Folgen". Rede von Kerstin Müller, Staatsministerin im Auswärtigen Amt, anlässlich der Klausurtagung des Koordinierungsausschusses Humanitäre Hilfe, Berlin 08.10.2004
3) Wirtschaftliche Entwicklung Ruandas. Beitrag der Deutschen Botschaft Kigali vom September 2004; www.ixpos.de 04.10.2004
4) see also Soldering Technique

see also EU-Military Operation in the Congo

Sources:
Staatsministerin Kerstin Müller mahnt, die Krisen in Afrika nicht zu vergessen; Pressemitteilung des Auswärtigen Amts 22.02.2005
Bush: Keine Macht kann Europa und Amerika trennen; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 22.02.2005