ATHENS – Greece’s opening to sub-Saharan Africa, an area that had remained outside the framework of Greek foreign policy priorities for several years, is the key aim of Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias’ visit to Rwanda, the first by a Greek foreign minister in that country, diplomatic sources said on Friday. They noted that emphasis is being placed on Rwanda’s role on the regional and international stage, as a model of national reconciliation and economic growth in Africa.
The same diplomatic sources emphasised that Greece, as a country that does not have a colonial past but with historical Greek communities in Africa, has the potential to create solid foundations for cooperation with African countries.
In particular, they said that this visit was dictated by several factors. “First of all, Africa is the continent with the greatest potential for economic growth. Rwanda is a model of economic reconstruction and growth in Africa and is among the three African economies with the best performance in entrepreneurship. At the same time, however, Africa, with its huge population growth and existing economic inequalities, is also a potential source of instability and undocumented migration for Europe,” the sources said.
In this context, they pointed out that the involvement of Europe, including Greece, in what is happening in Africa is becoming imperative and added that Rwanda, although a relatively small country by African standards (with 12 million inhabitants), plays a particularly important role in regional organisations.
According to diplomatic sources, it was important not to overlook that Rwanda is the country with the fourth-largest contribution to the UN peacekeeping force (mainly in Africa), while participating in peacekeeping missions of the African Union and has sent troops to northern Mozambique to fight the extremist Islamist movement that has emerged in the region. In this light, they underlined that Greece, a country that wants to play a role in international affairs and promote multilateral cooperation on the basis of international law and with full respect for the UN Charter, finds in Rwanda a natural partner in Africa.
For all the above reasons, the same diplomatic sources explained, Greece must show its interest in strengthening relations with Rwanda actively and not just in words.