BY NEW BUSINESS ETHIOPIA REPORTER
France supports Egyptians and Tunisians who seek peaceful solution in this 'crucial period'. President Nicolas Sarkozy of France said this on Sunday 30 January 2011 at the 16th ordinary session of the African Union held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, aiming at recent public unrest in the two countries.
'It is with friendship and respect that France will be on the side of Tunisians and Egyptians in such a crucial period,' Sarkozy stated.
In a passionate speech at the Economic Commission of Africa, Sarkozy pointed out his dedication as the president of France but also as a prominent member of the G8 and G20, to be a ‘sincere friend’ to Africa. ‘Dream big,’ he urged the audience. ‘Because the dream of today is the reality of tomorrow.’
Sarkozy hailed Africa’s economic development in which he said the continent showed to be a ‘theatre of change’ despite the challenges of a global economic and financial crisis. He called the achievements ‘spectacular’ and complimented Africa’s dynamism, young population and expanding middle class.
But the progress Africa shows is not just limited to the economic level. Despite progress in several fields, Sarkozy called upon all AU members to dedicate themselves to good governance, democracy and respect for human rights.
To emphasize the work to be done in these fields he summarized some of the continent’s crises. ‘Allow me, despite the touchiness of the subject, for we are among friends, to speak with an open heart,’ the French president said before continuing his speech.
Sarkozy expressed his worries on terrorism in the Sahel (West Africa), piracy and chaos in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also mentioned the elections in Ivory Coast, the referendum in South Sudan and the recent public unrest in Tunisia, a former French colony, and Egypt.
Sarkozy stated that, despite his dedication to the principle of national sovereignty, universal values and freedoms have to be respected. He accordingly said to be ‘on the side’ of the Egyptians and Tunisians who seek a ‘peaceful change’ of regime.
About the disputed elections in Ivory Coast, also a former colony, he said that ‘despite the difficulties it brings about, we see victory against violence, against intolerance, against dictatorship.’ The audience of African heads of state, which included Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, applauded these words.
Sarkozy ended his speech stressing the fact that the world needs a well-organized and united Africa; that there’s a common destination. He further urged his fellow leaders to develop agriculture and
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