Friday, July 31, 2015
Department of State
July 31, 2015
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Benin as you celebrate the 55th anniversary of your independence on August 1.
We share a friendship based on democratic values. The new Embassy compound we opened in July and the second Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact expected to be signed in the coming days are important demonstrations of our growing partnership. I commend your commitment to strengthen democracy, end corruption, and improve governance. You are a stalwart of peace and stability in West Africa.
On this joyous occasion, I wish all Beninese prosperity in the year ahead.
Acting Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Travels to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of the Congo
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
July 30, 2015
Acting Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Michele T. Bond will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the Republic of the Congo from August 2-7, 2015, for a series of meetings with foreign government authorities. During her visit to the DRC, she will meet with Congolese government officials to discuss the status of exit permits for children adopted by U.S. citizens. In the Republic of the Congo, she will meet with Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary General Cyprien Mamina to discuss U.S.-Congolese bilateral consular issues.
Department of State and USAID Officials to Deliver Remarks at the Presidential Summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders
Office of the Spokesperson
Department of State
July 29, 2015
Several Department of State and USAID officials will provide remarks at the Presidential Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, August 3-5, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington. The three-day Summit will bring together 500 of sub-Saharan Africa’s most promising young leaders to meet with President Obama and leading U.S. entrepreneurs, government officials, and civil society representatives.
Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Evan Ryan will call the Summit to order onMonday, August 3 at 9:00 a.m. Heather A. Higginbottom, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources, and Eric Postel, Associate Administrator, U.S. Agency for International Development, will give remarks during the Private Sector and Civil Society Partnership Expo on Tuesday, August 4 at 3:00 p.m. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Richard Stengel and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Linda Thomas-Greenfield will offer closing remarks on Wednesday, August 5 at 3:30 p.m.
The event will also feature a town hall with President Obama, a plenary session with Members of Congress, and breakout discussions with leaders in business, government, international development and non-governmental organizations.
The Presidential Summit follows six weeks of academic study and leadership training for the 500 Fellows at 20 higher education institutions across the United States as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship.
Release of Pardoned Prisoners and Disappearance of Gambian Journalist
Department of State Spokesperson
July 28, 2015
The United States notes President Jammeh’s decision to pardon and release at least 200 prisoners and welcomes, in particular, his decision to release, after a lengthy period of detention without charge, family members of the December 30, 2014 coup plotters.
We call on The Gambia to respect its human rights obligations and to release all other prisoners currently being held without charge for longer than the 72-hour period established by The Gambia’s constitution.
The United States remains deeply concerned about the whereabouts of Gambian radio journalist Alagie Abdoulie Ceesay, who disappeared on July 17, days after being released from a two-week long period of arbitrary detention during which he was reportedly tortured. We urge the Government of The Gambia to promptly locate Mr. Ceesay, return him to his family and loved ones, investigate the circumstances of his previous abduction and detention, and hold accountable any individuals found to be responsible for violating Mr. Ceesay’s rights.
The United States is committed to supporting freedom of expression and the rule of law, and takes very seriously this and other reports of abusive conduct by Gambian security forces.
July 30, 2015
On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States of America, I offer my best wishes to King Mohammed VI and the Moroccan people as you celebrate the Feast of the Throne on July 30.
The United States is proud to partner with Morocco on a broad spectrum of issues ranging from cultural and educational exchanges to military cooperation. Ours is a strategic partnership, and we work together daily to advance our common priorities of a secure, stable, and prosperous North Africa and Middle East. We share a strong commitment to improving economic opportunity and prosperity for all Moroccans through efforts to develop its entrepreneurial ecosystem and educational resources.
We applaud recent commitments by Morocco’s public and private sectors to create more job opportunities for young Moroccans. Our constructive engagement with the Government of Morocco and Moroccan youth, the private sector, and civil society are helping the Moroccan people realize their civic aspirations.
More broadly, we are pleased with our expanding collaboration with Morocco as we seek to address global and regional security challenges and applaud Moroccan leadership on efforts to counter violent extremism.
In the spirit of friendship between our people and governments, we look forward to deepening our strong relationship that has endured for over two centuries. I wish the people of Morocco a joyful celebration and prosperity in the year to come.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary July 28, 2015
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA TO THE PEOPLE OF AFRICA
African Union Headquarters
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
2:07 P.M. EAT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you so much. Madam Chairwoman, thank you so much for your kind words and your leadership. To Prime Minister Hailemariam, and the people of Ethiopia — once again, thank you for your wonderful hospitality and for hosting this pan-African institution. (Applause.) To members of the African Union, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen — thank you for welcoming me here today. It is a great honor to be the first President of the United States to address the African Union. (Applause.)
I’m grateful for this opportunity to speak to the representatives of more than one billion people of the great African continent. (Applause.) We’re joined today by citizens, by leaders of civil society, by faith communities, and I’m especially pleased to see so many young people who embody the energy and optimism of today’s Africa. Hello! Thank you for being here. (Applause.)
I stand before you as a proud American. I also stand before you as the son of an African. (Applause.) Africa and its people helped to shape America and allowed it to become the great nation that it is. And Africa and its people have helped shape who I am and how I see the world. In the villages in Kenya where my father was born, I learned of my ancestors, and the life of my grandfather, the dreams of my father, the bonds of family that connect us all as Africans and Americans.
As parents, Michelle and I want to make sure that our two daughters know their heritage — European and African, in all of its strengths and all of its struggle. So we’ve taken our daughters and stood with them on the shores of West Africa, in those doors of no return, mindful that their ancestors were both slaves and slave owners. We’ve stood with them in that small cell on Robben Island where Madiba showed the world that, no matter the nature of his physical confinement, he alone was the master of his fate. (Applause.) For us, for our children, Africa and its people teach us a powerful lesson — that we must uphold the inherent dignity of every human being.
Dignity — that basic idea that by virtue of our common humanity, no matter where we come from, or what we look like, we are all born equal, touched by the grace of God. (Applause.) Every person has worth. Every person matters. Every person deserves to be treated with decency and respect. Throughout much of history, mankind did not see this. Dignity was seen as a virtue reserved to those of rank and privilege, kings and elders. It took a revolution of the spirit, over many centuries, to open our eyes to the dignity of every person. And around the world, generations have struggled to put this idea into practice in laws and in institutions.
So, too, here in Africa. This is the cradle of humanity, and ancient African kingdoms were home to great libraries and universities. But the evil of slavery took root not only abroad, but here on the continent. Colonialism skewed Africa’s economy and robbed people of their capacity to shape their own destiny. Eventually, liberation movements grew. And 50 years ago, in a great burst of self-determination, Africans rejoiced as foreign flags came down and your national flags went up. (Applause.) As South Africa’s Albert Luthuli said at the time, “the basis for peace and brotherhood in Africa is being restored by the resurrection of national sovereignty and independence, of equality and the dignity of man.”
A half-century into this independence era, it is long past time to put aside old stereotypes of an Africa forever mired in poverty and conflict. The world must recognize Africa’s extraordinary progress. Today, Africa is one of the fastest-growing regions in the world. Africa’s middle class is projected to grow to more than one billion consumers. (Applause.) With hundreds of millions of mobile phones, surging access to the Internet, Africans are beginning to leapfrog old technologies into new prosperity. Africa is on the move, a new Africa is emerging.
Propelled by this progress, and in partnership with the world, Africa has achieved historic gains in health. The rate of new HIV/AIDS infections has plummeted. African mothers are more likely to survive childbirth and have healthy babies. Deaths from malaria have been slashed, saving the lives of millions of African children. Millions have been lifted from extreme poverty. Africa has led the world in sending more children to school. In other words, more and more African men, women and children are living with dignity and with hope. (Applause.)
And Africa’s progress can also be seen in the institutions that bring us together today. When I first came to Sub-Saharan Africa as a President, I said that Africa doesn’t need strongmen, it needs strong institutions. (Applause.) And one of those institutions can be the African Union. Here, you can come together, with a shared commitment to human dignity and development. Here, your 54 nations pursue a common vision of an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.”
As Africa changes, I’ve called on the world to change its approach to Africa. (Applause.) So many Africans have told me, we don’t want just aid, we want trade that fuels progress. We don’t want patrons, we want partners who help us build our own capacity to grow. (Applause.) We don’t want the indignity of dependence, we want to make our own choices and determine our own future.
As President, I’ve worked to transform America’s relationship with Africa — so that we’re truly listening to our African friends and working together, as equal partners. And I’m proud of the progress that we’ve made. We’ve boosted American exports to this region, part of trade that supports jobs for Africans and Americans. To sustain our momentum — and with the bipartisan support of some of the outstanding members of Congress who are here today — 20 of them who are here today — I recently signed the 10-year renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. (Applause.) And I want to thank them all. Why don’t they stand very briefly so you can see them, because they’ve done outstanding work. (Applause.)
We’ve launched major initiatives to promote food security, and public health and access to electricity, and to prepare the next generation of African leaders and entrepreneurs –investments that will help fuel Africa’s rise for decades to come. Last year, as the Chairwoman noted, I welcomed nearly 50 African presidents and prime ministers to Washington so we could begin a new chapter of cooperation. And by coming to the African Union today, I’m looking to build on that commitment.
I believe Africa’s rise is not just important for Africa, it’s important to the entire world. We will not be able to meet the challenges of our time — from ensuring a strong global economy to facing down violent extremism, to combating climate change, to ending hunger and extreme poverty — without the voices and contributions of one billion Africans. (Applause.)
Now, even with Africa’s impressive progress, we must acknowledge that many of these gains rest on a fragile foundation. Alongside new wealth, hundreds of millions of Africans still endure extreme poverty. Alongside high-tech hubs of innovation, many Africans are crowded into shantytowns without power or running water — a level of poverty that’s an assault on human dignity.
Moreover, as the youngest and fastest-growing continent, Africa’s population in the coming decades will double to some two billion people, and many of them will be young, under 18. Now, on the one hand, this could bring tremendous opportunities as these young Africans harness new technologies and ignite new growth and reforms. Economists will tell you that countries, regions, continents grow faster with younger populations. It’s a demographic edge and advantage — but only if those young people are being trained. We need only to look at the Middle East and North Africa to see that large numbers of young people with no jobs and stifled voices can fuel instability and disorder.
I suggest to you that the most urgent task facing Africa today and for decades ahead is to create opportunity for this next generation. (Applause.) And this will be an enormous undertaking. Africa will need to generate millions more jobs than it’s doing right now. And time is of the essence. The choices made today will shape the trajectory of Africa, and therefore, the world for decades to come. And as your partner and your friend, allow me to suggest several ways that we can meet this challenge together.
Africa’s progress will depend on unleashing economic growth — not just for the few at the top, but for the many, because an essential element of dignity is being able to live a decent life. (Applause.) That begins with a job. And that requires trade and investment.
Many of your nations have made important reforms to attract investment — it’s been a spark for growth. But in many places across Africa, it’s still too hard to start a venture, still too hard to build a business. Governments that take additional reforms to make doing business easier will have an eager partner in the United States. (Applause.)
And that includes reforms to help Africa trade more with itself — as the Chairwoman and I discussed before we came out here today — because the biggest markets for your goods are often right next door. You don’t have to just look overseas for growth, you can look internally. And our work to help Africa modernize customs and border crossings started with the East African Community — now we’re expanding our efforts across the continent, because it shouldn’t be harder for African countries to trade with each other than it is for you to trade with Europe and America. (Applause.)
Now, most U.S. trade with the region is with just three countries — South Africa, Nigeria and Angola — and much of that is in the form of energy. I want Africans and Americans doing more business together in more sectors, in more countries. So we’re increasing trade missions to places like Tanzania, Ethiopia Mozambique. We’re working to help more Africans get their goods to market. Next year, we’ll host another U.S.-Africa Business Forum to mobilize billions of dollars in new trade and investment — so we’re buying more of each other’s products and all growing together.
Now, the United States isn’t the only country that sees your growth as an opportunity. And that is a good thing. When more countries invest responsibly in Africa, it creates more jobs and prosperity for us all. So I want to encourage everybody to do business with Africa, and African countries should want to do business with every country. But economic relationships can’t simply be about building countries’ infrastructure with foreign labor or extracting Africa’s natural resources. Real economic partnerships have to be a good deal for Africa — they have to create jobs and capacity for Africans. (Applause.)
And that includes the point that Chairwoman Zuma made about illicit flows with multinationals — which is one of the reasons that we’ve been a leading advocate, working with the G7, to assist in making sure that there’s honest accounting when businesses are investing here in Africa, and making sure that capital flows are properly accounted for. That’s the kind of partnership America offers.
Nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential more than ending the cancer of corruption. (Applause.) And you are right that it is not just a problem of Africa, it is a problem of those who do business with Africa. It is not unique to Africa — corruption exists all over the world, including in the United States. But here in Africa, corruption drains billions of dollars from economies that can’t afford to lose billions of dollars — that’s money that could be used to create jobs and build hospitals and schools. And when someone has to pay a bribe just to start a business or go to school, or get an official to do the job they’re supposed to be doing anyway — that’s not “the African way.” (Applause.) It undermines the dignity of the people you represent.
Only Africans can end corruption in their countries. As African governments commit to taking action, the United States will work with you to combat illicit financing, and promote good governance and transparency and rule of law. And we already have strong laws in place that say to U.S. companies, you can’t engage in bribery to try to get business — which not all countries have. And we actually enforce it and police it.
And let me add that criminal networks are both fueling corruption and threatening Africa’s precious wildlife — and with it, the tourism that many African economies count on. So America also stands with you in the fight against wildlife trafficking. That’s something that has to be addressed. (Applause.)
But, ultimately, the most powerful antidote to the old ways of doing things is this new generation of African youth. History shows that the nations that do best are the ones that invest in the education of their people. (Applause.) You see, in this information age, jobs can flow anywhere, and they typically will flow to where workers are literate and highly skilled and online. And Africa’s young people are ready to compete. I’ve met them — they are hungry, they are eager. They’re willing to work hard. So we’ve got to invest in them. As Africa invests in education, our entrepreneurship programs are helping innovators start new businesses and create jobs right here in Africa. And the men and women in our Young African Leaders Initiative today will be the leaders who can transform business and civil society and governments tomorrow.
Africa’s progress will depend on development that truly lifts countries from poverty to prosperity — because people everywhere deserve the dignity of a life free from want. A child born in Africa today is just as equal and just as worthy as a child born in Asia or Europe or America. At the recent development conference here in Addis, African leadership helped forge a new global compact for financing that fuels development. And under the AU’s leadership, the voice of a united Africa will help shape the world’s next set of development goals, and you’re pursuing a vision of the future that you want for Africa.
And America’s approach to development — the central focus of our engagement with Africa — is focused on helping you build your own capacity to realize that vision. Instead of just shipping food aid to Africa, we’ve helped more than two million farmers use new techniques to boost their yields, feed more people, reduce hunger. With our new alliance of government and the private sector investing billions of dollars in African agriculture, I believe we can achieve our goal and lift 50 million Africans from poverty.
Instead of just sending aid to build power plants, our Power Africa initiative is mobilizing billions of dollars in investments from governments and businesses to reduce the number of Africans living without electricity. Now, an undertaking of this magnitude will not be quick. It will take many years. But working together, I believe we can bring electricity to more than 60 million African homes and businesses and connect more Africans to the global economy. (Applause.)
Instead of just telling Africa, you’re on your own, in dealing with climate change, we’re delivering new tools and financing to more than 40 African nations to help them prepare and adapt. By harnessing the wind and sun, your vast geothermal energy and rivers for hydropower, you can turn this climate threat into an economic opportunity. And I urge Africa to join us in rejecting old divides between North and South so we can forge a strong global climate agreement this year in Paris. Because sparing some of the world’s poorest people from rising seas, more intense droughts, shortages of water and food is a matter of survival and a matter of human dignity.
Instead of just sending medicine, we’re investing in better treatments and helping Africa prevent and treat diseases. As the United States continues to provide billions of dollars in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and as your countries take greater ownership of health programs, we’re moving toward a historic accomplishment — the first AIDS-free generation. (Applause.) And if the world learned anything from Ebola, it’s that the best way to prevent epidemics is to build strong public health systems that stop diseases from spreading in the first place. So America is proud to partner with the AU and African countries in this mission. Today, I can announce that of the $1 billion that the United States is devoting to this work globally, half will support efforts here in Africa. (Applause.)
I believe Africa’s progress will also depend on democracy, because Africans, like people everywhere, deserve the dignity of being in control of their own lives. (Applause.) We all know what the ingredients of real democracy are. They include free and fair elections, but also freedom of speech and the press, freedom of assembly. These rights are universal. They’re written into African constitutions. (Applause.) The African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights declares that “every individual shall have the right to the respect of the dignity inherent in a human being.” From Sierra Leone, Ghana, Benin, to Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, democracy has taken root. In Nigeria, more than 28 million voters bravely cast their ballots and power transferred as it should — peacefully. (Applause.)
Yet at this very moment, these same freedoms are denied to many Africans. And I have to proclaim, democracy is not just formal elections. (Applause.) When journalists are put behind bars for doing their jobs, or activists are threatened as governments crack down on civil society — (applause) — then you may have democracy in name, but not in substance. (Applause.) And I’m convinced that nations cannot realize the full promise of independence until they fully protect the rights of their people.
And this is true even for countries that have made important democratic progress. As I indicated during my visit to Kenya, the remarkable gains that country has made with a new constitution, with its election, cannot be jeopardized by restrictions on civil society. Likewise, our host, Ethiopians have much to be proud of — I’ve been amazed at all the wonderful work that’s being done here — and it’s true that the elections that took place here occurred without violence. But as I discussed with Prime Minister Hailemariam, that’s just the start of democracy. I believe Ethiopia will not fully unleash the potential of its people if journalists are restricted or legitimate opposition groups can’t participate in the campaign process. And, to his credit, the Prime Minister acknowledged that more work will need to be done for Ethiopia to be a full-fledged, sustainable democracy. (Applause.)
So these are conversations we have to have as friends. Our American democracy is not perfect. We’ve worked for many years — (applause) — but one thing we do is we continually reexamine to figure out how can we make our democracy better. And that’s a force of strength for us, being willing to look and see honestly what we need to be doing to fulfill the promise of our founding documents.
And every country has to go through that process. No country is perfect, but we have to be honest, and strive to expand freedoms, to broaden democracy. The bottom line is that when citizens cannot exercise their rights, the world has a responsibility to speak out. And America will, even if it’s sometimes uncomfortable — (applause) — even when it’s sometimes directed toward our friends.
And I know that there’s some countries that don’t say anything — (laughter) — and maybe that’s easier for leaders to deal with. (Laughter.) But you’re kind of stuck with us — this is how we are. (Applause.) We believe in these things and we’re going to keep on talking about them.
And I want to repeat, we do this not because we think our democracy is perfect, or we think that every country has to follow precisely our path. For more than two centuries since our independence, we’re still working on perfecting our union. We’re not immune from criticism. When we fall short of our ideals, we strive to do better. (Applause.) But when we speak out for our principles, at home and abroad, we stay true to our values and we help lift up the lives of people beyond our borders. And we think that’s important. And it’s especially important, I believe, for those of us of African descent, because we’ve known what it feels like to be on the receiving end of injustice. We know what it means to be discriminated against. (Applause.) We know what it means to be jailed. So how can we stand by when it’s happening to somebody else?
I’ll be frank with you, it can’t just be America that’s talking about these things. Fellow African countries have to talk about these things. (Applause.) Just as other countries championed your break from colonialism, our nations must all raise our voices when universal rights are being denied. For if we truly believe that Africans are equal in dignity, then Africans have an equal right to freedoms that are universal — that’s a principle we all have to defend. (Applause.) And it’s not just a Western idea; it’s a human idea.
I have to also say that Africa’s democratic progress is also at risk when leaders refuse to step aside when their terms end. (Applause.) Now, let me be honest with you — I do not understand this. (Laughter.) I am in my second term. It has been an extraordinary privilege for me to serve as President of the United States. I cannot imagine a greater honor or a more interesting job. I love my work. But under our Constitution, I cannot run again. (Laughter and applause.) I can’t run again. I actually think I’m a pretty good President — I think if I ran I could win. (Laughter and applause.) But I can’t.
So there’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law. (Applause.) And no one person is above the law. Not even the President. (Applause.) And I’ll be honest with you — I’m looking forward to life after being President. (Laughter.) I won’t have such a big security detail all the time. (Laughter.) It means I can go take a walk. I can spend time with my family. I can find other ways to serve. I can visit Africa more often. (Applause.) The point is, I don’t understand why people want to stay so long. (Laughter.) Especially when they’ve got a lot of money. (Laughter and applause.)
When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife — as we’ve seen in Burundi. (Applause.) And this is often just a first step down a perilous path. And sometimes you’ll hear leaders say, well, I’m the only person who can hold this nation together. (Laughter.) If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation. (Applause.)
You look at Nelson Mandela — Madiba, like George Washington, forged a lasting legacy not only because of what they did in office, but because they were willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully. (Applause.) And just as the African Union has condemned coups and illegitimate transfers of power, the AU’s authority and strong voice can also help the people of Africa ensure that their leaders abide by term limits and their constitutions. (Applause.) Nobody should be president for life.
And your country is better off if you have new blood and new ideas. (Applause.) I’m still a pretty young man, but I know that somebody with new energy and new insights will be good for my country. (Applause.) It will be good for yours, too, in some cases.
Africa’s progress will also depend on security and peace — because an essential part of human dignity is being safe and free from fear. In Angola, Mozambique, Liberia, Sierra Leone, we’ve seen conflicts end and countries work to rebuild. But from Somalia and Nigeria to Mali and Tunisia, terrorists continue to target innocent civilians. Many of these groups claim the banner of religion, but hundreds of millions of African Muslims know that Islam means peace. (Applause.) And we must call groups like al Qaeda, ISIL, al-Shabaab, Boko Haram — we must call them what they are — murderers. (Applause.)
In the face of threats, Africa — and the African Union –has shown leadership. Because of the AU force in Somalia, al-Shabaab controls less territory and the Somali government is growing stronger. In central Africa, the AU-led mission continues to degrade the Lord’s Resistance Army. In the Lake Chad Basin, forces from several nations — with the backing of the AU — are fighting to end Boko Haram’s senseless brutality. And today, we salute all those who serve to protect the innocent, including so many brave African peacekeepers.
Now, as Africa stands against terror and conflict, I want you to know that the United States stands with you. With training and support, we’re helping African forces grow stronger. The United States is supporting the AU’s efforts to strengthen peacekeeping, and we’re working with countries in the region to deal with emerging crises with the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership.
The world must do more to help as well. This fall at the United Nations, I will host a summit to secure new commitments to strengthen international support for peacekeeping, including here in Africa. And building on commitments that originated here in the AU, we’ll work to develop a new
partnership between the U.N. and the AU that can provide reliable support for AU peace operations.
If African governments and international partners step up with strong support, we can transform how we work together to promote security and peace in Africa.
Our efforts to ensure our shared security must be matched by a commitment to improve governance. Those things are connected. Good governance is one of the best weapons against terrorism and instability. Our fight against terrorist groups, for example, will never be won if we fail to address legitimate grievances that terrorists may try to exploit, if we don’t build trust with all communities, if we don’t uphold the rule of law. There’s a saying, and I believe it is true — if we sacrifice liberty in the name of security, we risk losing both. (Applause.)
This same seriousness of purpose is needed to end conflicts. In the Central African Republic, the spirit of dialogue recently shown by ordinary citizens must be matched by leaders committed to inclusive elections and a peaceful transition. In Mali, the comprehensive peace agreement must be fulfilled. And leaders in Sudan must know their nation will never truly thrive so long as they wage war against their own people — the world will not forget about Darfur.
In South Sudan, the joy of independence has descended into the despair of violence. I was there at the United Nations when we held up South Sudan as the promise of a new beginning. And neither Mr. Kiir, nor Mr. Machar have shown, so far, any interest in sparing their people from this suffering, or reaching a political solution.
Yesterday, I met with leaders from this region. We agree that, given the current situation, Mr. Kiir and Mr. Machar must reach an agreement by August 17th — because if they do not, I believe the international community must raise the costs of intransigence. And the world awaits the report of the AU Commission of Inquiry, because accountability for atrocities must be part of any lasting peace in Africa’s youngest nation. (Applause.)
And finally, Africa’s progress will depend on upholding the human rights of all people — for if each of us is to be treated with dignity, each of us must be sure to also extend that same dignity to others. As President, I make it a point to meet with many of our Young African Leaders. And one was a young man from Senegal. He said something wonderful about being together with so many of his African brothers and sisters. He said, “Here, I have met Africa, the [Africa] I’ve always believed in. She’s beautiful. She’s young. She’s full of talent and motivation and ambition.” I agree.
Africa is the beautiful, talented daughters who are just as capable as Africa’s sons. (Applause.) And as a father, I believe that my two daughters have to have the same chance to pursue their dreams as anybody’s son — and that same thing holds true for girls here in Africa. (Applause.) Our girls have to be treated the same.
We can’t let old traditions stand in the way. The march of history shows that we have the capacity to broaden our moral imaginations. We come to see that some traditions are good for us, they keep us grounded, but that, in our modern world, other traditions set us back. When African girls are subjected to the mutilation of their bodies, or forced into marriage at the ages of 9 or 10 or 11 — that sets us back. That’s not a good tradition. It needs to end. (Applause.)
When more than 80 percent of new HIV cases in the hardest-hit countries are teenage girls, that’s a tragedy; that sets us back. So America is beginning a partnership with 10 African countries — Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe — to keep teenage girls safe and AIDS-free. (Applause.) And when girls cannot go to school and grow up not knowing how to read or write — that denies the world future women engineers, future women doctors, future women business owners, future women presidents — that sets us all back. (Applause.) That’s a bad tradition — not providing our girls the same education as our sons.
I was saying in Kenya, nobody would put out a football team and then just play half the team. You’d lose. (Applause.) the same is true when it comes to getting everybody and education. You can’t leave half the team off — our young women. So as part of America’s support for the education and the health of our daughters, my wife, Michelle, is helping to lead a global campaign, including a new effort in Tanzania and Malawi, with a simple message — Let Girls Learn — let girls learn so they grow up healthy and they grow up strong. (Applause.) And that will be good for families. And they will raise smart, healthy children, and that will be good for every one of your nations.
Africa is the beautiful, strong women that these girls grow up to become. The single best indicator of whether a nation will succeed is how it treats its women. (Applause.) When women have health care and women have education, families are stronger, communities are more prosperous, children do better in school, nations are more prosperous. Look at the amazing African women here in this hall. (Applause.) If you want your country to grow and succeed, you have to empower your women. And if you want to empower more women, America will be your partner. (Applause.)
Let’s work together to stop sexual assault and domestic violence. Let’s make clear that we will not tolerate rape as a weapon of war — it’s a crime. (Applause.) And those who commit it must be punished. Let’s lift up the next generation of women leaders who can help fight injustice and forge peace and start new businesses and create jobs — and some might hire some men, too. (Laughter.) We’ll all be better off when women have equal futures.
And Africa is the beautiful tapestry of your cultures and ethnicities and races and religions. Last night, we saw this amazing dance troupe made up of street children who had formed a dance troupe and they performed for the Prime Minister and myself. And there were 80 different languages and I don’t know how many ethnic groups. And there were like 30 different dances that were being done. And the Prime Minister was trying to keep up with — okay, I think that one is — (laughter) — and they were moving fast. And that diversity here in Ethiopia is representative of diversity all throughout Africa. (Applause.) And that’s a strength.
Now, yesterday, I had the privilege to view Lucy — you may know Lucy — she’s our ancestor, more than 3 million years old. (Applause.) In this tree of humanity, with all of our branches and diversity, we all go back to the same root. We’re all one family — we’re all one tribe. And yet so much of the suffering in our world stems from our failure to remember that — to not recognize ourselves in each other. (Applause.)
We think because somebody’s skin is slightly different, or their hair is slightly different, or their religious faith is differently expressed, or they speak a different language that it justifies somehow us treating them with less dignity. And that becomes the source of so many of our problems. And we think somehow that we make ourselves better by putting other people down. And that becomes the source of so many of our problems. When we begin to see other as somehow less than ourselves — when we succumb to these artificial divisions of faith or sect or tribe or ethnicity — then even the most awful abuses are justified in the minds of those who are thinking in those ways. And in the end, abusers lose their own humanity, as well. (Applause.)
Nelson Mandela taught us, “to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”
Every one of us is equal. Every one of us has worth. Every one of us matters. And when we respect the freedom of others — no matter the color of their skin, or how they pray or who they are or who they love — we are all more free. (Applause.) Your dignity depends on my dignity, and my dignity depends on yours. Imagine if everyone had that spirit in their hearts. Imagine if governments operated that way. (Applause.) Just imagine what the world could look like — the future that we could bequeath these young people.
Yes, in our world, old thinking can be a stubborn thing. That’s one of the reasons why we need term limits — old people think old ways. And you can see my grey hair, I’m getting old. (Laughter.) The old ways can be stubborn. But I believe the human heart is stronger. I believe hearts can change. I believe minds can open. That’s how change happens. That’s how societies move forward. It’s not always a straight line — step by halting step — sometimes you go forward, you move back a little bit. But I believe we are marching, we are pointing towards ideals of justice and equality.
That’s how your nations won independence — not just with rifles, but with principles and ideals. (Applause.) That’s how African Americans won our civil rights. That’s how South Africans — black and white — tore down apartheid. That’s why I can stand before you today as the first African American President of the United States. (Applause.)
New thinking. Unleashing growth that creates opportunity. Promoting development that lifts all people out of poverty. Supporting democracy that gives citizens their say. Advancing the security and justice that delivers peace. Respecting the human rights of all people. These are the keys to progress — not just in Africa, but around the world. And this is the work that we can do together.
And I am hopeful. As I prepare to return home, my thoughts are with that same young man from Senegal, who said: Here, I have met Africa, the [Africa] I’ve always believed in. She’s beautiful and young, full of talent and motivation and ambition. To which I would simply add, as you build the Africa you believe in, you will have no better partner, no better friend than the United States of America. (Applause.)
God bless Africa. God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
2:54 P.M. EAT
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 28, 2015
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA DURING TOUR OF FAFFA FOOD FACTORY
Faffa Food Factory
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
11:34 A.M. EAT
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (In progress) — is something called Feed the Future. And the goal is to drastically increase the productivity of a small group of farmers all throughout Africa. Because what we know is, is that a huge percentage of Africans are still getting their incomes from agriculture, and most of them are very small plots and not a lot of technology and not a lot of — but with just a few smart interventions, a little bit of help, they can make huge improvements in their overall deal.
So I don’t know if everybody was able to hear, but one of our farmers who is part of this program increased their yields threefold. So this used to be corn that she was able to produce; here is the corn she’s producing now — you get three times the yield, not only did she get more income to build a new house and get some more clothes, she also was able to buy a cow, which, in turns, obviously gives her additional resources to support her family. She’s now able to send her children to school.
And what Feed the Future is doing is not just helping the farmer to increase their yield, now what we’re also able to do is to then connect the small farmer to factories like this one so that they have a market and they’re able to sell their products for a fair price. In turn, this factory is taking corn, soy, and other foodstuffs and it can package them into nutritious, low-cost meals that are actually then supplemented with vitamins and are enhancing the nutrition of more people all across Ethiopia.
So by some smart interventions, what we’re able to do is not only increase the incomes of millions of people all across Africa, we’re also able to create new markets and food-processing alongside the foodstuffs themselves. And that helps grow the economy as a whole.
We were talking about how Ethiopia has been seeing significant growth — a lot of that is because of outstanding women like this who go out there and they triple their income — that’s good for the entire country.
So just to give you a sense, so far about 7 million farmers have been impacted by Feed the Future so far. And we’re going to continue to increase in the years to come — and we’ve gotten terrific cooperation from governments all across Africa. It’s one of the things I’ll be talking about at the African Union today.
11:36 A.M. EAT
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 28, 2015
FACT SHEET: Partnering with Africa on Food Security and Climate Change Adaptation
Feed the Future and the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition
A key pillar of the U.S. Strategy Toward Sub-Saharan Africa, released in 2012, is promoting opportunity and development. The Obama Administration has prioritized investing in Africa’s greatest resource – its people – to sustain and expand inclusive economic growth, opportunity, and the realization of human rights for this and future generations. The United States is investing substantial resources in 42 different countries in Africa, each with a unique set of development programs that include African-led and African-managed projects.
Through Feed the Future, one of the U.S. Government’s flagship development initiatives, and our support for the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the U.S. Government has elevated food security to the top of the global agenda, mobilizing billions of dollars in direct assistance and private resources for efforts that are contributing to direct impact against hunger, poverty and malnutrition.
At the 2009 G-8 Summit, President Obama pledged at least $3.5 billion in U.S. Government support, mobilizing an additional $18 billion from other donors, for global agricultural development as a key to unlocking economic growth. These resources and related efforts are helping to reduce hunger, poverty, and malnutrition. Feed the Future emerged from this commitment and 12 of its 19 focus countries are in Africa. With an emphasis on sustainable approaches that increase smallholder farmers’ productivity to feed a growing population in a world with limited natural resources and a changing climate, Feed the Future is contributing to substantial reductions in stunting and poverty.
For example, in Ethiopia, U.S. Government food security efforts including Feed the Future contributed to a reduction in stunting of 9 percent nationally over the past three years. In rural areas of Uganda, where Feed the Future primarily works, poverty has decreased by 16% between 2010 and 2013 according to the national threshold.
The U.S. Government supports the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition through Feed the Future to leverage resources for sustainable impact. Launched at the 2012 G-8 Summit by President Obama, African leaders and development partners, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition is a shared commitment to encourage private sector engagement in inclusive, sustainable agricultural growth with the aim of lifting millions out of poverty. This effort has catalyzed over $10 billion in commitments from more than 200 international companies, including African companies, of which $1.8 billion has already been invested.
Supporting Smallholder Farmers
We are announcing a planned $140 million Feed the Future package of investments to support partnerships to produce, market, and utilize climate-resilient seeds – including maize, legumes, rice, and wheat – to smallholder farmers in 11 African countries. This investment will help smallholders sustainably increase productivity and is expected to benefit more than 11 million households across Africa over the next three years.
To further support smallholder farmers, we are committing an additional $2 million, matched by DuPont/Pioneer, to reach 100,000 Ethiopian farmers by 2018 with new high-yield seed technologies and technical assistance.
Feed the Future funded programs are already achieving significant results in Africa and elsewhere. For example:
In 2014, Feed the Future-supported farmers experienced more than half a billion dollars in new agricultural sales, a more than threefold increase from the previous year, and more than 12 million children were reached with nutrition interventions. Feed the Future also helped nearly 7 million farmers gain access to new tools or technologies to help increase yields and improve incomes. See the forthcoming 2015 Feed the Future progress report at www.feedthefuture.gov/progress2015.
Through Feed the Future, the U.S. Government provides support to the African Union-led Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) investment planning process to ensure that risk reduction and resilience are built into country and regional agricultural investment plans. Last year, African leaders reaffirmed commitments to prioritize food security with the 2014 Malabo Declaration, which builds on the CAADP principles of agriculture-led growth, regional cooperation, evidence-based planning and policy, partnership, and expanded African financial commitments. The Declaration also sets out an ambitious agenda for Africa’s food security and nutrition for the next decade that is consistent with and will help achieve Feed the Future’s goals.
Chronic poverty and recurrent shocks drive many of the same communities into crisis year after year, resulting in human suffering, loss of life, loss of livelihoods, and staggering economic loss. In the wake of devastating, large-scale humanitarian emergencies in the Horn of Africa in 2011 and in the Sahel in 2012, the U.S. Government, humanitarian and development partners, and African governments have taken steps to reduce disaster risk, strengthen natural resource management, mitigate conflict, improve health outcomes, and expand economic opportunities for vulnerable populations.
In 2012 and 2013, USAID launched flagship resilience programs in Ethiopia and Kenya and “Resilience in the Sahel – Enhanced (RISE)” in Niger and Burkina Faso. RISE is helping 1.9 million of the most vulnerable people in the Sahel break the cycle of crisis, escape chronic poverty, and reduce the need for humanitarian assistance. We are planning to commit over $150 million in additional funding for this initiative, bringing the total commitment to approximately $290 million over 5 years.
In 2014 and 2015, USAID extended resilience investments into dryland areas of Somalia, Uganda, and Mali. The efforts collectively seek to strengthen the capacity of communities and governments to manage the effects of drought and address the root causes of recurrent crises.
The U.S. Government also continues to partner with private sector and a range of international humanitarian and development partners to leverage additional resources to promote resilience. For example, in 2014, the U.S. Government, Rockefeller Foundation, and Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency each committed to provide $50 million over five years to form the $150 million Global Resilience Partnership to catalyze and scale-up innovations to build resilience in three regions, including the Horn of Africa and the Sahel. The Global Resilience Partnership’s first activity–the Global Resilience Challenge–is underway.
Among the innovative tools that the U.S. Government is supporting to enhance resilience is the scaling up of climate resilient agricultural technologies, such as drought tolerant seeds, agro-forestry, rain water harvesting and irrigation. Through USAID, we are also examining the complementary role of insurance products to mitigate the impact of climatic shocks on vulnerable households (see fact sheet on “Partnering with Africa on Adaptation: U.S.-Africa Climate Change Adaptation Cooperation”). These interventions can stabilize producer incomes in the wake of an adverse event and protect household nutrition and human development outcomes.
U.S.-Africa Climate Change Adaptation Cooperation
The United States is committed to partnering with African governments and communities as part of our efforts to address the challenges posed by climate change and to reach a successful outcome later this year at the Paris climate change conference. This cooperation builds on submissions to the United Nations of post-2020 climate targets, formally known as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), by the United States, as well as African nations including Ethiopia, Morocco, Gabon and Kenya. Together with other INDCs expected in the coming months, these submissions show that nations across the international community are working together to combat climate change.
The steps countries are taking to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate are major components of this effort. For Africa, the threats posed by climate change are far-reaching and immediate. In the short-term, extreme weather events such as floods, droughts and heatwaves are testing the limits of vulnerable communities. Over the medium and long-term, rising temperatures, shifting rainfall patterns, and rising seas pose serious threats to the food, water and health security of the whole continent. The United States continues to expand its climate resilience programs, most recently with the launch of Climate Services for Resilient Development, a $34 million public-private partnership that provides actionable science, data, information, tools, and training to developing countries that are working to strengthen their national resilience against the impacts of climate change. Ethiopia is one of three initial focus countries globally for the Partnership.
Including the food security programs described above, the United States is engaged in a wide range of programs and projects that support adaptation efforts in around 40 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Between 2010 and 2014, adaptation-related U.S. bilateral assistance specifically for Africa totaled nearly $400 million – all in the form of grants – not counting global programs that also benefit African resilience efforts. During the same period, the United States also contributed over $400 million to adaptation-focused multilateral climate funds that benefit African as well as other countries. The United States has pledged $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, approximately half of which is expected to support adaptation activities, including in Africa.
In addition to these adaptation-specific funds, the United States is pioneering a new approach to ensure that adaptation considerations are integrated into the full portfolio of U.S. development assistance and investments. President Obama’s Executive Order on Climate-Resilient International Development requires climate resilience to be taken into consideration for all U.S. Government international development cooperation projects, programs, and investments as of October 2015.
Providing the Data Africa Needs for Climate Resilient Development
U.S. technical agencies such as the National Oceans and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the U.S. Geological Survey assist African governments and regional organizations, including the East Africa Community (EAC) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to better understand, plan for, and counter the impacts of climate change:
• As part of the recent U.S.-launched Climate Services for Resilient Development Public-Private Partnership, with Ethiopia as an initial focus country, NASA has made high-resolution downscaled climate projections publicly available for the entire globe. These data sets are a critical resource for researchers and decision-makers planning for the impacts of changing precipitation and temperature patterns at a national and sub-national level.
• The USAID/NASA SERVIR global initiative, in cooperation with the Nairobi-based Regional Center for Mapping of Resources for Development, offers hands-on training in satellite and remote sensing applications for scientists from 18 countries in eastern and southern Africa to help plan for climate impacts.
• USAID’s Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET) provides information and analysis on current and projected food security, expected weather hazards, and crop forecasts to help governments and regional organizations in the Horn of Africa and Sahel regions respond to food insecurity and emergency situations. FEWS NET also provides climate data, software tools, and training to partners in East Africa who are building regional climate change adaptation capacities through the USAID PREPARED program.
• To reduce harm from extreme-weather events, NOAA is leading a coordinated effort to extend the range of extreme weather forecasts from 14 days to up to 30 days and deliver warnings to impacted areas, including in Africa. These extended forecasts will increase the time to prepare and respond to several climate-related hazards like extreme precipitation events and heat waves.
National Adaptation Planning Process
Together with Malawi, South Africa, Togo, and several other countries, the United States is leading a National Adaptation Plan Global Network to generate enhanced political leadership on adaptation, facilitate learning and exchange on integrating adaptation into national development planning and action, and improve coordination among bilateral development partners.
Helping Coastal Communities
In Mozambique, USAID’s Climate Change Urban Adaptation Program is helping coastal populations cope with threats from climate change-induced sea level rise and extreme weather events. Working closely with the Mozambican government’s disaster preparedness agency, this program designed and implemented a mobile-phone based early warning system. The system alerts local residents to extreme weather events so that they can seek shelter, and provides information for first responders about which areas are hardest hit during emergencies. Currently operational in two cities with a combined population of 300,000 people, the system will be scaled up for use at the national level.
These are just a few examples of the many programs and efforts underway as the U.S. government continues to build partnerships with African governments and communities to adapt to the impacts of a changing climate.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 28, 2015
Readout of the President’s Multilateral Meeting on South Sudan and Regional Counterterrorism Issues
The President met on July 27 with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour, and African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to discuss South Sudan, Somalia, and regional counterterrorism issues. The leaders discussed the devastating consequences that the conflict in South Sudan is having on the people of South Sudan and on regional peace and stability. The leaders agreed that President Salva Kiir and Riek Machar must conclude an agreement under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) by August 17. The leaders also discussed the importance of cooperation on regional counterterrorism issues, including the need to support the African Union Mission in Somalia and to strengthen Somali governance institutions.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 27, 2015
FACT SHEET: U.S. Support for Peace, Security, and Countering Violent Extremism in Africa
The United States is committed to working with our African partners to address peace and security challenges on the continent and across the globe. While expanding our cooperation with governments in Africa to combat the growing terrorist threat across the continent and protect African communities, we are engaging in holistic efforts to help governments and communities in Africa combat violent extremism.
Partnering on African Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism Efforts
We are strongly committed to partnering with African countries to increase their capacity to address the immediate threats posed by terrorist organizations and to prevent terrorists from using the region to recruit, seek sanctuary, or secure resources and financing. Through the new fiscal year 2015-2016 Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF), the United States intends to work with Congress to provide approximately $465 million in new training, equipment, capacity building, and enabling assistance to partners in Africa. This funding will support counterterrorism, security and Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) initiatives throughout Africa.
Also in fiscal year 2015, we intend to provide at least $40 million in assistance related to countering violent extremism in East Africa. This funding will be aligned with the White House CVE Action Agenda and build on the positive and ongoing CVE work in the region.
• We will seek to continue work in a wide range of areas, engaging in programming that promotes dialogue, trust, and enhanced partnerships between security forces, law enforcement actors, other civilian government officials, community leaders and civil society; strengthening the capacity and networks of civil society to be more inclusive, in particular of youth, religious leaders, women, victims of terrorism, and disengaged fighters, and enhance the efficacy of communities and community leaders to positively intervene and disrupt the cycle of radicalization to violence.
During the February 2015 White House CVE Summit, delegates from more than 65 countries, as well as civil society and the private sector, outlined an ambitious Action Agenda to operationalize a holistic approach to addressing the drivers of violent extremism and empower local communities and civil society. To continue this important work, Kenya hosted a regional follow-on CVE summit in June. We continue to demonstrate our commitment to countering terrorism and violent extremism through ongoing programs. For example:
• The Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and the Partnership for Regional East Africa Counterterrorism (PREACT) seek to build partner counterterrorism capacities across multiple sectors, including the military, law enforcement, and other civilian institutions.
• In Nigeria, Niger, and Chad the United States is expanding support for programs to build resilience and civilian security in communities targeted by Boko Haram. These efforts specifically work to strengthen community connectivity and civil society engagement through activities such as peace dialogues, sports programs, and youth education.
The United States currently partners with African communities to provide vocational, technical and life skills, and job search training with an underlying focus on empowering youth, to address the drivers of violent extremism. For example:
• In Somalia, through USAID’s Transition Initiative for Stabilization (TIS) and Strategic Response Activity (SRA) we support activities that promote dialogue, trust, and enhanced partnerships between civilian government officials, community leaders and civil society, on the basis of respect for human rights and accountability.
• In northern Mali, the United States is supporting local efforts to mitigate conflict, promote reconciliation, and address the drivers of violent extremism.
• In Kenya we work to empower youth at risk of radicalization through programs like “Yes Youth Can!,” in which youth are enabled to take a leadership role in initiatives that create opportunities for themselves and their communities.
Building African Peacekeeping Capacity and Saving Lives Through Rapid Response
In order to increase the capacity of UN peacekeeping in Africa and beyond, President Obama will be hosting a summit on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly where participating countries will make significant, new, and concrete commitments to fill gaps in existing peacekeeping missions and plan for future ones.
During the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, the President announced a major new initiative, the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership (APRRP), to build the capacity of African militaries to rapidly deploy peacekeepers in response to emerging conflict, a concept that holds powerful life-saving potential. APRRP will initially build the capacity of six African partners: Ethiopia, Ghana, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda.
• The United States has already concluded initial high-level consultation visits with all APRRP partners, deployed technical assessment teams to the partner countries, and announced an initial package of assistance to Ethiopia to assist in the development of its airlift capabilities.
• APRRP complements programs such as the Global Peace Operations Initiative, the Africa Contingency Operations Training and Assistance program, and the International Police Peacekeeping Operations Support program. Through these programs, the United States has supported the training of over 250,000 African peacekeepers since 2005.
The United States Government is also taking important steps towards implementing other commitments announced during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit:
• The Early Warning and Response Partnership (EWARP) supports information sharing, conflict prevention and crisis management among West African states. Through EWARP, the United States is working to develop the full-spectrum of early warning capacity for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and its member states so they can proactively identify emerging crises and improve their response mechanisms once a crisis begins.
• The Security Governance Initiative (SGI) represents a comprehensive approach to improving security sector governance and was launched last year with six partner countries: Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Tunisia. The SGI approach is based on partnership and joint analysis of the opportunities and challenges governments face and entails whole-of-government strategies to achieve catalytic and systemic reform in specific areas of focus related to the functioning of civilian and military institutions. The United States and Government of Kenya have signed the first Joint Country Action Plan under SGI, which will support enhanced border management, fair and equitable administration of justice, and improved human resources in Kenya’s police service.
Department of State Spokesperson
July 27, 2015
Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Cairo, Egypt, on August 2 to co-chair the U.S.-Egypt Strategic Dialogue with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. The bilateral dialogue reaffirms the United States’ longstanding and enduring partnership with Egypt, and will provide a forum to discuss a broad range of political, economic, security, and cultural issues to address issues of importance to each side and further our common values, goals, and interests.
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2015
Statement by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice on the Passing of Ambassador Olhaye
I wish to offer my deepest condolences on the passing of Djiboutian Ambassador to the United States Roble Olhaye. Ambassador Olhaye was the longest-serving Ambassador to the United States, a tireless advocate for Djibouti, U.S.-Djiboutian relations, and a personal friend. We mourn the passing of Ambassador Olhaye, a forceful promoter of trade between Africa and America, even as we celebrate a cause to which he contributed so much, the long-term renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ambassador Olhaye’s family and loved ones, and we take solace knowing that his legacy lives on in our strong ties with Djibouti and the broader continent.
Department of State
July 24, 2015
The first-ever WiSci Girls STEAM Camp begins tomorrow, July 25, at the Gashora Girls Academy in Rwanda. The camp is a public-private partnership designed to advance and expand Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) opportunities for girls. The program will empower participants with the knowledge and skillset to enhance their competitiveness during a time of rapid technological development, by providing them with access to high-tech resources, like-minded peers, business connections, and inspiring mentors.
Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell will travel to Rwanda for the opening ceremony of the camp, and will be joined by Ambassador to Rwanda Erica Barks-Ruggles and Rwandan Minister of Education Dr. Papias Musafiri.
Over the next three weeks, approximately 120 girls from the United States and eight African countries will take part in a challenging, hands-on curriculum taught by industry professionals on computer science, robotics, entrepreneurship, and design. Participants will partake in cultural exchanges, develop their own projects, and build leadership and entrepreneurial skills. After the camp, the participants will have access to mentorship and continued opportunities for support and professional development.
This first-of-its-kind program is organized by the U.S. Department of State, Microsoft 4Afrika, Intel, AOL Charitable Foundation, the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign, and the Rwanda Girls Initiative, with support from Meridian International Center, the Rwandan Ministry of Education, the African Leadership Academy, and the Global Entrepreneurship Network. Additional programmatic support was contributed by UNESCO, HeHe Labs, and Indego Africa.
For more information on the WiSci Girls STEAM Camp, visit http://www.state.gov/s/partnerships/ppp/wisci/, follow #wisci2015 and @GPatState on social media, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 27, 2015
TOAST REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN OF ETHIOPIA AT STATE DINNER
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
8:02 P.M. EAT
PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM: Your Excellency, the President of the United States of America, Mr. Barack Obama, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen: In the history of the relationship by Ethiopia and the United States of America, this is an exceptional occasion. Never before did we have the opportunity to be able to welcome a sitting President of the United States for an official visit to Ethiopia.
And, Mr. President, we welcome you and all the members of your delegation to Ethiopia with open arms. (Applause.) Your visit is a mark of the long friendship between our two countries and our two peoples — a friendship that I am certain will be further enhanced in the future. It shows the strengths and depths of the diplomatic and cultural relations we enjoy today, and underlines our hopes for the future.
Mr. President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, our links were formally established at the beginning of the last century when a treaty of commerce was signed during the reign of Emperor Menelik and President Theodore Roosevelt administration in 1903. Since then, and even earlier, the United States provided an inspiration for the advancement of science and technology, and indeed, of democracy and good governance.
Ethiopia, similarly, as the only surviving vessel of freedom and independence in Africa, offered an inspiration to many in America. It was a source of inspiration for a great African American thinker and philosopher, Du Bois, as well as more recently, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And many saw a source of enlightenment in the spirit of Ethiopia. They saw the courageous struggle of Ethiopia as the symbol of the struggle of the whole community of Africans across the world for civil liberty, equality, and freedom.
Our relationship established on the basis of mutual understanding, respect and dignity, and matured in the struggled against fascism. The role of the United States to the struggle can only be described as historic. People all over the country protested against Italy’s invasion of Ethiopia. You raised funds and sent medical supplies. People in New York, Harlem, Oklahoma, Texas, and many other cities paraded in support of Ethiopia. Thousands offered to enlist to fight for us. And even after the war, many more came to Ethiopia to help in our post-war reconstruction.
It is perhaps appropriate to single out one person, as I feel this is an appropriate moment to mention one African American hero who grew up in Mississippi during the early 1920s, and came to Ethiopia in 1935 to help us in our struggle against fascism and colonial aggression. Colonel John Robinson was, I believe, one of the first Americans to take up arms against fascism. Having earlier established an aviation school in Alabama, Colonel Robinson was largely responsible for founding the Ethiopian Air Force during the Italian invasion. Called here the “Brown Condor of Ethiopia,” he then became the first commander of the air force.
He was a wonderful example of those Americans who did so actively support Ethiopia both in time of peace and conflict. And here, let me also mention the exemplary dedication displayed by your youth in the Peace Corps, both in the 1960s, all over the way through today.
In this context, let me also remember all those Americans who have given their lives to Ethiopia, not least the late Congressman Mickey Leland who worked so hard to build the relationship between our two countries on the basis of dignity, faith and hope. He would have very much appreciated this visit as a symbol of the friendship that has been built up over the years, and which he did so much to encourage.
We, and indeed other Africans, who owe very gratitude to your administration and the members of Congress for the recent renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act for another decade. And this bipartisan action by Congress was an impressive example of the way the United States had prepared to assist in the development and growth in Africa. I cannot speak too highly of those congresswomen and men who are so active and for so many years in support of this cause. I believe I can see a number of you here today. May I offer my very sincere thanks for your determined efforts.
You showed a very real example of the understanding that the people of America have for the problems of Africa.
Your effort also provides another clear demonstration of the way we can do work together, closely and harmoniously, for joint development of our people.
Mr. President, Excellencies, today we are celebrating a longstanding, time-tested, and exception relationship. I believe I can speak for us all when I say that this closeness could now be expressed at a new level of contact and development. The United States of course continues to play a major role in
global efforts for peace and development.
There are the central issues for us as well, and I believe I can say that we have similar views on major regional and global issues. We have been cooperating closely at the United Nations, in the African Union, and in our regional organization, IGAD. We greatly appreciate this support we have received and continue to receive from the United States for the resolution of conflict and peace-building and stability in our region. We are most grateful for your steadfast support to our collective efforts in the fight against violent extremism and terrorism.
Mr. President, with all this in mind, we in Ethiopia would like to infuse a new level of commitment into our relationship with the United States. We have built a firm relationship on the basis of mutual trust and respect, and now we’d like to extend this and raise our links to a new level, to explore further opportunities for development and build a wider network of activity that can strengthen our bilateral relationship. It is something from which I believe we can both benefit.
Mr. President, you have here a very trusted friend, a country and people that highly appreciate what the United States stands for. Now, in the spirit of the friendship, I would therefore like to propose a toast to the bright future that awaits the people of our two countries, and to the good health and happiness of Your Excellency.
Distinguished guests, may I ask you to stand and join me in a toast to the President of the United States of America and to all the people of the great nation. Long live Ethiopia-U.S friendship. Cheers. (A toast is given.) (Applause.)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you so much. Good evening, everybody. I would greet you in all the languages of Ethiopia, but I’m told that there are more than 80. (Laughter.) So that would keep us here all night. (Laughter.) So let me just say indemin walachu. (Applause.)
Prime Minister Halemariam, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honor for me to be here tonight as the first sitting United States President to visit Ethiopia. And I want to thank the great people of Ethiopia, including Teddy Mak — he’s the one who sang that catchy song upon my welcome — I want to thank all of you for the wonderful reception we’ve received.
You know Ethiopians are an ancient people in an ancient land. We honor Ethiopia as the birthplace of humankind. In fact, I just met Lucy, our oldest ancestor. (Applause.) As your great poet laureate wrote, “Here is the land where the first harmony in the rainbow was born…Here is the root of the Genesis of Life; the human family was first planted here.”
When you see our ancestor, 3.5 million years old, we are reminded that Ethiopians, Americans, all the people of the world are part of the same human family, the same chain. (Applause.) And as one of the professors who was describing the artifacts correctly pointed out, so much of the hardship and conflict and sadness and violence that occurs around the world is because we forget that fact. We look at superficial differences as opposed to seeing the fundamental connection that we all share.
And for more than a century, our two nations have enjoyed a harmony that enriched us both. We’ve worked together to lift up the fortunes of those most in need; tonight we also remember former Prime Minister Meles and his dedication to reducing poverty. Together, we’ve sheltered and cared for refugees fleeing conflict. We’ve sought to secure our shared future against those who would threaten us.
Of course, of the many contributions Ethiopia has made to the world over the centuries, I’m certain that Americans want to thank you for one in particular, discovering something that sustains people around the world, day and night, and many people in the White House, and that is coffee. (Laughter.)
Thank you, Ethiopia. (Applause.) We are large consumers of coffee in the White House. (Laughter.)
And Ethiopia has ignited the imagination of Americans for generations. Before African Americans won their civil rights, many of them were inspired by this country — a nation that never suffered the indignities of colonialism, people who defended their freedom and their right in self-determination. You already mentioned, Mr. Prime Minister, Colonel John Robinson, an American who was one of the fathers of the Tuskegee Airmen, nicknamed the Brown Condor, who then came to Ethiopia and trained Ethiopian pilots to tame their heavens and, as you indicated, helped to set up the Ethiopian Air Force. You sparked the passion of American poets like Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes, who saw in Ethiopia a dignity to be celebrated and emulated.
Ethiopia kindled a commitment to service for generations of young Americans who volunteered for the Peace Corps and who have for decades worked alongside the people of this proud land. For my part, I was impressed by the courage of the Ethiopian journalists that I welcomed to the White House earlier this year, moved by their determination to champion a robust free press, and I very much appreciated the comments you made at the press conference today about the evolution that’s taking place to deepen democracy here.
So the deep connections between our peoples is built on the values that we share. We saw that so clearly two years ago when the Boston Marathon suffered that horrendous terrorist bombing. And in a gesture of great solidarity and compassion, the runner who won the race, an Ethiopian, returned his medal to honor the victims of the attack. And at this year’s Marathon, Americans cheered all the harder when he once again crossed the finish line first with an even faster time. (Applause.) And that, I think, is the hallmark of the American and Ethiopian bond.
We don’t give in or give up when things get hard, but we come back better and we come back stronger. So there’s no doubt that Ethiopians and Americans are sprung from the same root of life — we have evidence of that. Tonight, I’d like to offer a toast: To another century of friendship, to our one human family, and to a bright future for the land where the first harmony of the rainbow was born. Letenachin. (Applause.) For you Americans, that means “to our health” or “cheers.” (Laughter.)
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
8:18 P.M. EAT
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
July 27, 2015
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AND PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN OF ETHIOPIA IN JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
1:47 P.M. EAT
PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM: Members of the press, ladies and gentlemen, I would like to once again welcome His Excellency, the President of the United States of America, to Ethiopia. We are honored to receive a sitting U.S. President for the first time in the history of our century-long diplomatic relations. But again, we believe it’s fitting and appropriate in the light of the fact that Ethiopia is the Cradle of Mankind, the beacon light for African independence, and an inspiration for all the black people’s struggles, and the political capital of Africa.
Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee — (laughter) — and with so many firsts to its name, and as such a first and historic visit by the first U.S. President of African origin, I believe it’s a well-deserved one. His visit comes at a time when both Africa and Ethiopia are registering impressive growth, making important strides. For Ethiopia, the economy has registered double-digit growth for the last 12 years, uninterruptedly.
His visit also comes at a time when we’re working hard in improving governance and fighting insecurity, conflicts and terrorism. His visit could not have come at a better time, as the leader of the most powerful nation on Earth, diplomatically, economically, and more importantly, in science and technology and education — the very things Africa and Ethiopia need in abundance if they are to sustain their growth. President Obama’s visit represents a new height in our bilateral relations.
This morning, we have had extensive bilateral discussions with President Obama on a range of topics. We have discussed ways of further deepening our bilateral relations and our cooperation on a number of issues. Among the areas we have discussed, we talked at length about the U.S. support in helping expand trade and investment in Ethiopia.
As you know, the U.S. is Ethiopia’s strategic partner in many fields. And the steady of flow of quality investment from the United States, as much as we crave it, though the recent beginning is so encouraging, has often been in short supply. We have discussed, among other things, how to encourage U.S. investors to come to Ethiopia in large numbers, where there are numerous competitive and comparative advantages they can benefit from.
We have discussed how best we can take advantage of President Obama’s signature Power Africa initiative, which is, in our case, has already seen significant progress made with 1,000 megawatts geothermal contract to be signed this afternoon.
We have also discussed ways of scaling up the successful projects that President Obama launched four years ago in his flagship Alliance for Food Security program, and launching of similar initiatives.
We have also discussed and reached an understanding on coordinating our efforts in the global effort to fight climate change, and to work together for the success of the COP 21 negotiations in Paris. Likewise, we have exchanged ideas on ways the U.S. can champion the Addis Ababa action agenda during the negotiations of the sustainable development goals in New York next September. We have also agreed to work on global health epidemics.
We have raised a number of issues on how the U.S. can support the strengthening of Ethiopia’s democratization process. My government has expressed its commitment to deepen the democratic process already underway in the country, and work towards the respect of human rights and improving governance.
We have reiterated once again that our commitment to democracy is real, not skin-deep. We have both noted that we need to step up efforts to strengthen our institutions and build our capacity in various areas. We believe that U.S. support in this regard as age-old democracy will contribute to ensuring that our system becomes robust. We have agreed to continue our engagement despite minor differences here and there with regard mainly to the speed with which our democratization process is moving.
Finally, we have discussed a range of issues related to cooperation on security and peace-building in the region and on the pivotal role the U.S. can and does play. We have agreed to work closely on South Sudan to bring lasting peace to the conflict-ridden country. We have both agreed to work together in building peace in Somalia by helping create stable institutions and by strengthening the Somali security forces in their quest to be in charge of the peace of their own country.
We have agreed to intensify the campaign against terrorism in the region, and we both noted with satisfaction the progress AMISOM forces and Somali National Army are making, with the support of the U.S. and other partners, in their fight against al-Shabaab.
We have agreed to deepen our intelligence cooperation both bilaterally as well as regionally. We have both noted and underscored that this cooperation is essential to curb the menace posed by terrorism. The terrorist attack that was launched in Mogadishu yesterday is a stark reminder that we need to work even more in this respect.
In conclusion, we have agreed to continue working together for better results in all aspects of our cooperation.
Mr. President, I now call upon you to give your remarks.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Good afternoon. Dehna walach-hu. Prime Minister Hailemariam, we appreciate your kind words and for the welcome that you’ve extended to our delegation.
We’ve had very productive meetings here today. And after our bilateral, I had a chance to see the famous lions that live on the grounds. I’m considering getting some for the White House. (Laughter.) Although I’ll have to make sure that my dogs are safe. (Laughter.)
To the people of Ethiopia, thank you for the warmth and enthusiasm of your welcome and the spirit of friendship that you’ve shown me since I’ve been in Addis. I am proud to be the first U.S. President to visit Ethiopia, and, tomorrow, the first U.S. President to address the African Union. So my visit reflects the importance the United States places on our relationship with Ethiopia and all the nations and peoples of Africa.
As you noted, Ethiopia and the United States share a long friendship. Our people have worked together, traded with each other, and stood alongside one another for more than 100 years. The United States is strengthened by the contributions of Ethiopian Americans every day — and that’s particularly true in our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., which has the largest Ethiopian community outside of Ethiopia — or at least outside of Africa.
And we welcome Ethiopian students to study in the United States. Through our Young African Leaders Initiative, we’re helping to empower dynamic young Ethiopians with the tools that they need to make a difference in their communities. Ethiopia also hosts one of the largest Peace Corps programs in the world and has welcomed thousands of young Americans over the years.
So the connections between our peoples are both deep and enduring. And today, the Prime Minister and I spoke about how we can strengthen the cooperation between our nations.
First, we’re going to continue working together to advance Ethiopia’s economic progress. Ethiopia has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world and one of the largest economies in Africa.
And we want to sustain that momentum, because a growing and inclusive economy in Ethiopia means more opportunities for the Ethiopian people and more trade and investment between our nations, which, in turn, helps to create American jobs.
With the renewal of the African Growth and Opportunity Act, we’ll work to further open American markets to Ethiopian products and help expand private sector investment in Ethiopia. Through our Power Africa initiative, we’re working to unlock Ethiopia’s potential for geothermal energy with the nation’s first private sector energy agreement. And this will help the government meet its ambitious goal of significantly increasing access to electricity across Ethiopia and help open the market to developing Ethiopia’s other vast renewable energy sources.
Second, we’re stepping up our cooperation on development, where Ethiopia has proven itself a global leader. To many people around the world, their image of Ethiopia remains stuck in the past — remembering drought and famine. But in the past 15 years, Ethiopia has lifted millions of people out of poverty. We’re working closely together to improve food security, to help farmers plant drought-resistant and higher-yield crops. We’re building resilience to climate change. Fewer people are suffering needlessly from preventable diseases like malaria. More children are getting an education.
Of course, there are still too many people, particularly in the rural areas, living in deprivation, so we have to keep moving on the progress that’s been made. Prime Minister Hailemariam has demonstrated his commitment to eliminating extreme poverty.
Ethiopia recently hosted the International Conference on Financing for Development, which secured a global consensus about how the nations of the world will deliver on our promises, especially to those most in need. Your Prime Minister played a vital role in forging that consensus, and Ethiopia is now helping to shape a new set of sustainable development goals for the world.
Third, our security cooperation is pushing back against violent extremism. Ethiopia faces serious threats, and its contribution to the African Union mission in Somalia have reduced areas under al-Shabaab control. But, as the Prime Minister noted, yesterday’s bombing in Mogadishu reminds us that terrorist groups like al-Shabaab offer nothing but death and destruction and have to be stopped. We’ve got more work to do.
This past week, Ethiopian troops have helped retake two major al-Shabaab strongholds. We have to now keep the pressure on.
Ethiopia is a major contributor, as well, to U.N. peacekeeping efforts; it contributes more troops than any other country in Africa. And we’re working together to improve the ability of Ethiopian peacekeepers to respond rapidly to emerging crises, before they spiral into widespread violence.
Ethiopia has also been a key partner as we seek to resolve the ongoing crisis in South Sudan. Later today, the Prime Minister and I will meet with leaders from across the region to discuss ways we can encourage the government and opposition in South Sudan to end the violence and move toward a peace agreement. I want to thank Ethiopia for the sanctuary it provides hundreds of thousands of refugees who have fled South Sudan and conflicts throughout the region.
And finally, I would note that everything I’ve mentioned –sustained and inclusive growth, development, security gains –also depends on good governance. We had a frank discussion. In a global economy that’s increasingly driven by technology and the Internet, continued growth in Ethiopia depends on the free flow of information and open exchanges of ideas. I believe that when all voices are being heard, when people know that they’re included in the political process, that makes a country stronger and more successful and more innovative. So we discussed steps that Ethiopia can take to show progress on promoting good governance, protecting human rights, fundamental freedoms, and strengthening democracy. And this is an area where we intend to deepen our conversations and consultation, because we strongly believe in Ethiopia’s promise and its people.
Ethiopia is a strong partner with the United States and a leader on so many vital issues in the region. And it has the opportunity now to extend its leadership in ways that benefit all of Ethiopia’s people and that sets a positive example for the region. It’s hard work, but my message today to the people of Ethiopia is that, as you take steps moving your country forward, the United States will be standing by you the entire way.
So, Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality and for the important work that our nations do together. Ameseginalehu. (Applause.)
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister. Mr. President, you mentioned earlier that combatting terrorism is one of the areas in which Ethiopia and the U.S. are partnering. However, organizations based in the U.S. and Eritrea are (inaudible) in Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism efforts. How will your government assist Ethiopia in this regard?
And secondly, in regards to trade and investment cooperation, how committed is your government to transform the aid-based Ethiopia-U.S. relations to a mutually beneficial trade and investment cooperation? Thank you very much.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, on the first issue, this was part of our conversation both with respect to security, but also with respect to good governance and human rights issues. Our policy is that we oppose terrorism wherever it may occur. And we are opposed to any group that is promoting the violent overthrow of a government, including the government of Ethiopia, that has been democratically elected.
I also shared with the Prime Minister our interest in deepening intelligence cooperation. And we’ve had some fruitful discussions about ending the flow of foreign financing for terrorism. Our cooperation regionally is excellent. I know that there are certain groups that have been active in Ethiopia that, from the Ethiopian government’s perspective, pose a significant threat. Our intelligence indicates that while they may oppose the government, they have not tipped into terrorism. And we have some very clear standards in terms of how we evaluate that.
But what I indicated to the Prime Minister is, is that in our consultations and deepening intelligence cooperation, we will look and see what evidence we have, where there are real problems, and where we see genuine terrorist activity. That’s something that we are going to want to cooperate with and stop.
So a lot of this has to do with how we define a particular group’s activities. If they are just talking about issues and are in opposition and are operating as political organizations, we tend to be protective of them even if we don’t agree with them. That’s true in the United States; that’s true everywhere. And we think that’s part of what’s necessary for a democracy. If they tip into activities that are violent and are undermining a properly constituted government, then we have a concern.
And so this will be a matter of facts — what are the facts with respect to this issue — in determining how we can work together.
On shifting development models, part of what I’ve been preaching ever since I came into office, and what we’ve been putting into practice as I travel across the continent of Africa, but this is also true in Latin America, it’s true in Asia — in this modern world, it is not enough just to provide aid.
Sometimes aid is critical. I mean, we’re very proud of the work that we’ve done to provide health aid that has saved millions of lives with respect to HIV/AIDS. We are very proud of our ability to mobilize humanitarian assistance when there’s a drought and the potential for starvation. Those are still necessary. But what we also believe is that we are your best partners and your best friends when we are building capacity.
So instead of just giving a fish, we teach you how to fish. And whether it’s the work we’re doing in agriculture, or on energy, our goal is not to simply provide something and then we go away, and then later on, we need to give you something more. Our goal is to help you advance your development agenda so that it’s Ethiopian businesses and Ethiopian technical experts, and Ethiopian scientists, and Ethiopian agricultural workers who are continually building capacity and increasing development inside the country.
And on that, we can be a very effective partner. And that, then, allows us also to trade and engage the private sector in this process.
So, on Power Africa, for example, we are providing billions of dollars from the U.S. government, and we’re leveraging the Swedish government and World Bank to create a fund that helps to facilitate transactions. But what we’re also doing is working with the Ethiopian government to leverage that money so that the private sector says, we’d like to invest in Ethiopia, as well, and helping advise the Ethiopian Energy Ministry and technical experts on what may be the best models for reaching rural areas, for example — which may not always involve big power plants but might involve off-grid, smaller models of development that are sustainable and are not dependent on constant financial flows from the West, but instead build up local capacity and are best suited for the particular environment where electricity is needed.
So that, I think, is going to be true in health, energy, agriculture. The more that Ethiopians are able to grow rapidly on their own, then our relationship becomes one of mutual interest, mutual respect. And Ethiopia then becomes a leader, and it can then help other countries that are not as advanced on the development scales. And then we can partner with you to help Somalia as it’s rebuilding after decades of failed governance.
MR. EARNEST: Our next question will come from Kevin Corke with Fox News.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I’d like to ask you about balance. And you often speak about the importance of rewarding good governance, and so I’m wondering how do you balance your obvious concerns about human rights here in Ethiopia with a desire for increased economic partnership and strengthening regional security cooperation? And if I could follow up — have you ruled out, or would you consider increased military involvement by the United States in East Africa to battle al-Shabaab? And if so, what lessons could be learned from the battle against ISIS, for example, that might be relevant here?
And, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your great hospitality in your beautiful country. I’d like to ask you about perception. For all the incredible things that are happening here in Ethiopia — a strengthening economy, great investment right now in renewable energy infrastructure — there is still a perception, sir, that human rights abuses are tolerated here, and that could really be affecting international investment in your economy. Are you concerned about that? If so, how can concerned, and what might you be doing, sir, to change that perception? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, as I said in my opening remarks, this was a significant topic of conversation. We are very mindful of Ethiopia’s history — the hardships that this country has gone through. It has been relatively recently in which the constitution that was formed and the elections put forward a democratically elected government. And as I indicated when I was in Kenya, there is still more work to do, and I think the Prime Minister is the first to acknowledge that there’s more work to do.
The way we think about these issues is we want to engage with governments on areas of mutual concern and interest — the same way, by the way, that we deal with China and deal with a range of other countries where the democratic practices or issues around freedom of the press and assembly are not ones that align with how we are thinking about it, but we continually bring it up and we indicate that this is part of our core interest and concern in our foreign policy. That’s true here as well.
My observation to the Prime Minister has been that the governing party has significant breadth and popularity. And as a consequence, making sure to open additional space for journalists, for media, for opposition voices, will strengthen rather than inhibit the agenda that the Prime Minister and the ruling party has put forward.
And I think our goal here is to make sure that we are a constructive partner, recognizing that Ethiopia has its own culture and it’s not going to be identical to what we do, but there are certain principles that we think have to be upheld.
The one thing that I’ve tried to be consistent on, though, is to make sure that we don’t operate with big countries in one fashion and small countries in another. Nobody questions our need to engage with large countries where we may have differences on these issues. That’s true with Africa as well.
We don’t improve cooperation and advance the very interest that you talk about by staying away. So we have to be in a conversation. And I think the Prime Minister will indicate that I don’t bite my tongue too much when it comes to these issues, but I do so from a position of respect and regard for the Ethiopian people, and recognizing their history and the challenges that they continue to face.
With respect to our military assistance, keep in mind that we have been active in the fight against al-Shabaab for a long time now. And we’ve been partnering with Ethiopia and Kenya and Uganda and the African Union and AMISOM. And that’s something that I think those other countries would agree has been a very effective partnership. Part of the reason that we’ve seen the shrinkage of al-Shabaab’s activities in East Africa is because we have our military teams in consultation with regional forces and local forces, and there are certain capacities that we have that some of these militaries may not, and I think there’s been complementarity in the work that we’ve done together.
So we don’t need to send our own Marines, for example, in to do the fighting. The Ethiopians are tough fighters. And the Kenyans and Ugandans have been serious about putting troops on the ground, at significant sacrifice, because they recognize the importance of stabilizing the region.
That’s why, in the past, I’ve said, for example, that the work that we’re doing in Somalia is a model. Some in the press have noted that al-Shabaab is still here, and they say, well, how can that be a model if you still have bombs going off? The point that I was making at that time is not that defeating any of these terrorist networks is easy, or that the problems in Somalia are completely solved. The point I was making was that a model in which we are partnering with other countries and they are providing outstanding troops on the ground — we’re working with, in this case, the Somali government, which is still very much in its infancy, to develop its national security capacity
– so that we’re doing things that we can do uniquely but does not require us putting boots on the ground — that’s the model that we’re talking about.
And Ethiopia is an outstanding partner in that process. They have one of the most effective militaries on the continent. And as I noted in my earlier remarks, they are also one of the biggest contributors to peacekeeping. And so they’re averting a lot of bloodshed and a lot of conflict because of the effectiveness of their military, and we want to make sure that we’re supporting that.
PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM: We fully understand that the perception and the reality does not, in many cases, match as far as Ethiopia is concerned. Therefore, we want to work on this issue; it’s our concern. But something has to be understood that this is a fledgling democracy, and we are coming out of centuries of undemocratic practices and culture in this country. And it’s not easy within a few decades — in our case, only two decades of democratization — that we can get rid of all this attitudinal problems, and some challenge we face. But we feel that we are on the right track, and there is a constitutional democracy which we all are obliged to observe for the sake of our own people and prosperity.
So I think this is a way that we have to work on. That’s why I said in my speech that we have to learn the best practices of the United States and age-old democracies, because this is a process of learning and doing, and I think we fully understand that. And, of course, we also know our limitations and we have to work on our limitations to make ultimately to the betterment of our own people. So I think that is a concern that we have to work on.
Q My question for you, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn is, what do you expect from the United States and the rest of the international community in terms of supporting the peace and security efforts in the Horn of Africa, as well as how successful was your bilateral discussion with President Obama, specifically in regards to economic ties?
And, President Obama, my question for you is, what are your thoughts specifically on the IGAD Plus peacekeeping efforts in South Sudan?
PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM: As far as the economic cooperation is concerned, I mentioned that Ethiopia is one of the vibrant economies, which is rising. And we need — you know, we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket. We need a comprehensive quality investment from every corner of the globe. And specifically, at this time, we agreed that the President is going to support us, his government is going to support us in bringing quality investment to Ethiopia.
We have longstanding relations, diplomatic relations, but the investment flow doesn’t match that long history of cooperation between Ethiopia and the United States. So I think there is room. Recently, we have a number of renowned companies from the United States showing up to invest in my country. But we also understand that we have to improve our investment climate and environment where there are stifling issues here and there, bureaucratic bottlenecks, that has to be addressed. And we are on stop of them and we can address them. I think by doing so, we can attract more foreign direct investment from the United States.
As far as the security cooperation in concerned, I think we believe that Africans should take our own responsibility by our own hand. We need support from the United States, but it doesn’t meant that the United States is going to replace us in picking our own agenda in Africa.
That’s why Ethiopia is contributing peacekeeping force — a number which the President has mentioned. And we’re also working on increasing the capability of our troops in peacekeeping. But the most important thing is we have to engage the people of Africa and their respective countries to make peace and the governance system that helps the people to engage.
So I think we are on the right track. And we can make changes in Somalia and, I am hopeful, also in South Sudan. And I think in many cases, this shouldn’t mar the picture of Africa where, in large, Africa is now rising, and Africa is showing — becoming the next growing tide for economic development and cooperation. So I think we are on the right track in this cooperation.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: IGAD has been a vital partner to the international community in leading discussions between Mr. Kiir, Mr. Machar, the government opposition figures in South Sudan. Unfortunately, the situation continues to deteriorate. That’s not because IGAD has not tried hard enough. I know that between Prime Minister Hailemariam and other partners in IGAD, there has been a lot of time and a lot of effort to push the parties together.
Nevertheless, the situation is deteriorating. The humanitarian situation is worsening. The possibilities of renewed conflict in a region that has been torn by conflict for so long and has resulted in so many deaths is something that requires urgent attention from all of us, including the international community.
That’s why, after this press conference, we’ll be consulting with leaders from the other countries who have been involved in IGAD to see how the United States, IGAD, and the international community can work to bring a peace agreement and a structure to fruition sometime in the next several weeks.
We don’t have a lot of time to wait. The conditions on the ground are getting much, much worse. And part of my interest in calling together this meeting was to find out how we can help.
Up until this point, it’s been very useful to have the African countries take the lead. As Prime Minister Hailemariam stated, the more that Africans are solving African problems, the better off we’re going to be. But we also think that we can be a mechanism for additional leverage on the parties, who, up until this point, have proven very stubborn and have not yet risen to the point where they are looking out for the interests of their nation as opposed to their particular self-interests. And that transition has to take place, and it has to take place now.
MR. EARNEST: The final question will come from Darlene Superville with the Associated Press.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. I wanted to follow up on the Sudan question. As you go into this meeting that you just mentioned, are you expecting any breakthroughs that will get both sides to agree to a peace deal by the August 17th deadline? And if there is no agreement, what further steps would you be willing to take to bring that about?
And if I could ask about Iran. Would you kindly bring us up to date on the administration’s lobbying of Congress to get approval for the deal? And would you include your reaction to Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee saying that the deal is the equivalent of marching the Israelis toward “the door of the oven”?
Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for your hospitality. Would you also add your thoughts on the situation in Sudan and how to bring peace over there? The second question I have for you is, the Committee to Protect Journalists ranks your country as the second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa. Just before President Obama arrived here, some journalists were released. Many more are still being detained. Would you explain what issues or objections you have to a free press? Thank you.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: On South Sudan, the goal here is to make sure that the United States and IGAD are aligned on a strategy going into this endgame on peace talks. So my hope is that, as a result of these consultations, that we agree on how urgent it is and what each of us have to do to actually bring a deal about.
I don’t want to prejudge what I’ll hear from the President of Uganda, for example, until I actually hear from him. But the good news is that all of us recognize that something has got to move, because IGAD has now been involved with consultations with these individuals for a very, very long time, and our special envoys that have been involved in this for years now have concluded that now is the time for a breakthrough. And if we don’t see a breakthrough by August 17th, then we’re going to have to consider what other tools we have to apply greater pressure on the parties.
And that’s something I think the parties will certainly hear from us. Our hope is that the message we deliver is similar to the message that they get from the IGAD countries and others who are interested in the issue.
With respect to Iran, I won’t give a grade to our lobbying efforts. In fact, I’m not even sure I’d characterize it as lobbying. What we’re doing is presenting facts about an international agreement that 99 percent of the world thinks solves a vital problem in a way that will prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and does so diplomatically.
And essentially what we’ve been seeing is Secretary of State John Kerry, Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz — who is an expert on nuclear issues — just providing the facts, laying out exactly what the deal is, explaining how it cuts off all the pathways for Iran to get a nuclear weapon; explaining how it puts in place unprecedented verification and inspection mechanisms; explaining how we have snapback provisions so that if they cheat, we immediately re-impose sanctions; explaining also how we will continue to address other aspects of Iranian behavior that are of deep concern to us and our allies — like providing arms to terrorist organizations.
So the good news, I guess, is that I have not yet heard a factual argument on the other side that holds up to scrutiny. There’s a reason why 99 percent of the world thinks that this is a good deal — it’s because it’s a good deal. There’s a reason why the overwhelming majority of nuclear scientists and nonproliferation experts think it’s a good deal — it’s because it’s a good deal. It accomplishes our goal, which is making sure Iran does not have a nuclear weapon. In fact, it accomplishes that goal better than any alternative that has been suggested.
And you’ve heard me, Darlene, stand up in front of the press corps and try to get a good argument on the other side that’s based in fact as opposed to rhetoric. And I haven’t gotten one yet. So if you’re asking me, how do you think our argument is going, it’s going great. Now, if you’re asking me about the politics of Washington and the rhetoric that takes place there, that doesn’t always go great.
The particular comments of Mr. Huckabee are, I think, part of just a general pattern that we’ve seen that is — would be considered ridiculous if it weren’t so sad. We’ve had a sitting senator call John Kerry Pontius Pilate. We’ve had a sitting senator who also happens to be running for President suggest that I’m the leading state sponsor of terrorism. These are leaders in the Republican Party. And part of what historically has made America great is, particularly when it comes to foreign policy, there’s been a recognition that these issues are too serious, that issues of war and peace are of such grave concern and consequence that we don’t play fast and loose that way. We have robust debates, we look at the facts, there are going to be disagreements. But we just don’t fling out ad hominem attacks like that, because it doesn’t help inform the American people.
I mean, this is a deal that has been endorsed by people like Brent Scowcroft and Sam Nunn — right? — historic Democratic and Republican leaders on arms control and on keeping America safe. And so when you get rhetoric like this, maybe it gets attention and maybe this is just an effort to push Mr. Trump out of the headlines, but it’s not the kind of leadership that is needed for America right now. And I don’t think that’s what anybody — Democratic, Republican, or independent — is looking for out of their political leaders.
In fact, it’s been interesting when you look at what’s happened with Mr. Trump, when he’s made some of the remarks that, for example, challenged the heroism of Mr. McCain, somebody who endured torture and conducted himself with exemplary patriotism, the Republican Party is shocked.
And yet, that arises out of a culture where those kinds of outrageous attacks have become far too commonplace and get circulated nonstop through the Internet and talk radio and news outlets. And I recognize when outrageous statements like that are made about me, that a lot of the same people who were outraged when they were made about Mr. McCain were pretty quiet.
The point is we’re creating a culture that is not conducive to good policy or good politics. The American people deserve better. Certainly, presidential debates deserve better. In 18 months, I’m turning over the keys — I want to make sure I’m turning over the keys to somebody who is serious about the serious problems the country faces and the world faces. And that requires on both sides, Democrat and Republican, a sense of seriousness and decorum and honesty. And I think that’s what the voters expect, as well.
PRIME MINISTER HAILEMARIAM: As regards to South Sudan, I cannot agree more with the
President. But we should also recognize that this process has taken a long, long negotiation period. And, on the other hand, people are suffering on the ground, and we cannot let this go unchecked. And I think the meeting which we are making this afternoon has a strong signal and message that has to be passed to the parties in South Sudan to see that that they’re (inaudible) first.
So I think this is very much essential. And I fully recognize what the President has said, and we’ll see how it happens.
As far as Ethiopia is concerned, we need journalists. We need more of them and quality of them, because we have not only bad stories to be told, but we have many success stories that has to be told. And so we need you. This is very important. But we need ethical journalism to function in this country.
And there is limitation capacity in all aspects of our works, there is also capacity limitations in journalism and that way. Maybe those of you who are in developed nations, you can help our journalists — domestic journalists — to increase their capacity to work on ethical manner. But the only thing as a leader of this nation we do not want to see is journalism has to be respected when it doesn’t pass the line; that working with violent terrorist groups is not allowed — even in the United States. And we need civilized journalism as a culture and as a profession.
So I think my government is committed to this issue, that we need many young journalists to come up and help this country to understand what’s going on. And for us, it’s very important to be criticized because we also get feedback to correct our mistakes and limitations. So we need journalists. And I think this is our view. And rest assured that we’ll continue to do so, because the media is one of the institutions that has to be nurtured for democratic discourse. And so that’s why we agree that institutional capacity-building in all aspects of democracy in this country is essential.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Thank you very much.
2:36 P.M. EAT