Estonia is looking into ways to continue its contribution to the fight of countries of sub-Saharan Africa against terrorism and smuggling and to strengthen their border controls, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said at a conference of the European Union, the African Union, the United Nations, and the G5 Sahel in Brussels on Friday.
"It is important to the European Union including Estonia to make a contribution to the development and stability of sub-Saharan Africa in order to reduce security risks for Europe and curb illegal migration," Ratas was quoted saying in a Friday press release. "Estonia has made a contribution to achieving peace in Africa and wishes to do so also in the future," he added.
Ratas said that in addition to security and a safe living environment, the people of the Sahel also need a more lively economy, the creation of jobs first and foremost for the young, and humanitarian and development aid to improve their situation.
"Cooperation among the countries of the Sahel and their participation in achieving these goals is crucial," he said.
Estonia has contributed approximately €4.7 million towards the development of Africa via the Emergency Trust Fund for Africa as well as other projects.
Ratas also met separately with the president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, with whom he discussed possibilities to support the peace process in Mali.
The G5 Sahel countries are Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad. The countries are part of sub-Saharan Africa, a region whose development is hampered by extreme poverty, frequent famines, conflicts, violent extremism and illegal migration, and organized crime connected with the latter.
The main goals of the conference are to get to an arrangement to finance a common 5,000-strong military force of the G5 Sahel countries as well as the peace process in Mali.
An estimated €424 million a year would be needed for the joint force. The EU has allocated €50 million to it so far.
Editor: Dario Cavegn