Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès, Minister of Defence Ludivine Dedonder and Minister of Development Co-operation Meryame Kitir held a meeting today, Thursday 20 May, with the president of the Republic of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, who is currently visiting our country. The meeting was attended by Nigerian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Development Co-operation, Mr Hassoumi Massaoudou, and the Nigerian Finance minister, Mr Ahmat Jidoud. The meeting was an opportunity for Belgium to congratulate the president on his appointment on 2 April. Our country is delighted with the first democratic transition in the history of Niger. President Bazoum’s priorities include the consolidation of democracy and the constitutional state, the fight against terrorism, and education for girls all of which are vital topics for our country and the three ministers.

Niger can be regarded as the most important bilateral partner of Belgium in the Sahel, where our country has applied a comprehensive approach with regard to the substantial collaboration, particularly with respect to development co-operation and defence.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès: “Belgium and Niger are both served by stability in the region. That is why our country is part of the Sahel coalition and is fully committed to the fight against armed terrorist groups. Belgium is going even further and demanding a “civil and political pact”, i.e. supporting the Sahel states in their efforts on behalf of their citizens in relation to tackling immunity from punishment, improving governance, and strengthening democratic institutions. The expansion of democracy and the constitutional state is another way of tackling the causes of violence.”

Minister of Defence Ludivine Dedonder: “I talked to President Bazoum about the excellent military collaboration between our two countries, which goes back to 2005. Since then, this has developed into a genuine partnership that has been confirmed further in Operation New Nero which began in 2017 in Niamey and then in Maradi. Thanks to this operation, over 1,500 members of Niger’s security troops have been trained. During our exchange of ideas, we set out the future perspectives for this collaboration in the context of a comprehensive approach that focuses on strengthening stability in the region.”

Minister of Development Co-operation Meryame Kitir: “On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the partnership between Niger and Belgium, we are also looking towards the future. We are working on a new collaborative programme for the coming years. The most important objective that we share is to ensure that the most vulnerable population groups in our countries are not disadvantaged. I am delighted to see that Belgium also shares common interests with Niger when it comes to education for girls, social protection, and climate change.”