Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visited Mali and Nigeria on Wednesday as part of her West African tour.
She attended meetings with government officials and visited soldiers of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the EU Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali), DW reports.
Roughly 1,000 German troops are in Mali as part of MINUSMA and additional 300 or so as part of the EUTM Mali, with Baerbock’s talks focused on whether Germany will continue to support the missions.
Both mandates are to expire in the coming weeks unless the German parliament decides to extend them.
Relations with EU
Relations between the EU and the military junta in Mali have deteriorated in recent months, largely due to repeated election delays and cooperation between Mali and Russian advisers and mercenaries.
Speaking in Mali, Baerbock stressed “the Sahel and above all Mali can only be stable if elections are not postponed again and again, and also regarding the security situation, if Russian actors are not worked with.”
“The government in Bamako has lost a great deal of international trust in recent months, not least by delaying the democratic transition and by intensifying military cooperation with Moscow,” Baerbock noted after leaving Mali and added “to simply say ‘keep it up’ would be wrong in my view.”
Christine Lambrecht, German Minister of Defence, pointed out that “in view of human rights violations by the Malian troops and Russian forces, possibly even mercenaries, one must ask oneself who we are actually training.”
France announced last month that it would withdraw its troops from Mali and end two anti-terrorist operations there.
Josep Borrell, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, noted on Monday that the bloc will halt parts of the EUTM Mali over lack of security guarantees “from the Malian authorities for non-interference by Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group.”
He reminded that the Russian paramilitary organisation Wagner Group is already under EU sanctions over accusations of human rights violations, adding that the group probably committed war crimes in Mali last month.The Malian junta, which seized power in 2020, has enlisted the help of the Wagner Group to fight against jihadists.