WASHINGTON DC —
The European Union Africa Summit began in Brussels on Wednesday with no-one representing the government of Zimbabwe after President Robert Mugabe boycotted the meeting following Belgium’s refusal to grant his wife, Grace, a visa.
Discussions at the summit are focusing on the theme; “Investing in people, prosperity and peace.”. Topics being discussed include education and training, women and youth, legal and illegal migrant flows between the continents, ways to stimulate growth and job creation, investing in peace and ways to enhance EU support for African capacities to manage security on the continent.
Running parallel to the summit are a number of related events, which include an Africa-EU youth leaders’ summit, an EU Africa business forum, a parliamentary summit and an Africa-EU civil society forum
Member of Parliament Thabitha Khumalo and businessman Nigel Chanakira are some of the Zimbabweans at the summit.
Relations between the EU and Harare have been sour for years following the imposition of the so-called targeted sanctions on President Mugabe and members of his inner circle on rights abuse allegations.
Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Joey Bimha said the government is not represented at any level at the summit.
EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Aldo Dell’ Ariccia the summit is proceeding despite Harare’s non-participation.
Econometer Global Capital’s head of research, Christopher Mugaga, said Harare has lost an opportunity to market its potential at the summit.
Meanwhile, the African and European leaders are also focusing on the Central African Republic (C.A.R) crisis on the sidelines of their summit in Brussels.
At a news conference Wednesday, U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon said he would press world powers at the summit to provide more security and financial support to the C.A.R.
Mr. Ban said the international community has not made the difference that it promised it would make in the troubled country.
He said African and French peacekeepers in the C.A.R. are "under-resourced and overwhelmed." He also said the C.A.R. needs an "inclusive political process" and money so that the government can get local police and security officials back on the job.
Leaders from 70 African and European nations are attending the summit, which is taking place as the European Union officially launches a military operation in the C.A.R.
The EU has agreed to deploy a temporary force of up to 1,000 troops to the troubled region. They will join about 6,000 African Union and 2,000 French troops that have been trying to protect civilians and disarm militias.